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LSU athlete passes out on stage during visit to White House

By Sarah May on
 May 27, 2023

A frightening moment occurred Friday at the White House, when a member of the NCAA champion women's basketball team from Louisiana State University fainted on stage while being honored by President Joe Biden, as the Daily Mail reports.

The team's head coach, Kim Mulkey, later revealed that the freshman hoopster at issue, Sa'Myah Smith, was perfectly fine and that while there appeared to be no lingering concerns about her health, the player would be checked by a physician just the same.

East Room Emergency

As Biden addressed the Tigers squad, Smith – who was standing on a set of risers behind the president, started to slump down, causing a commotion among her teammates, as ESPN noted.

White House personnel rushed to provide assistance to Smith, including a wheelchair, and the proceedings were paused for roughly 10 minutes, according to Fox Sports. WATCH:

A statement from the university subsequently indicated that Smith had previously reported feeling nauseous and overheated, but added that she was “feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge.”

Heady Experience

Remarking on the unexpected turn of events, Biden himself struck a sympathetic tone, saying, “It's a lot of standing. I apologize. It's OK. It's happened lots of times.

After she was attended to by White House staffers, Smith declared, “I'm great – way better than earlier.”

“I don't quite remember how everything happened. I just remember waking up pretty scared. The last thing I remember is telling one of my coaches, 'Hey, I think I'm going to pass out,'” Smith noted.

Hoping to provide Smith with a positive memory of the event, Biden reportedly autographed a vintage-look leather basketball for the player, writing, “Sa'Myah – it was wonderful [to] have you at the White House. You are the best.”

Sidestepping Controversy

The fact that the LSU team visited the White House seved as a happy conclusion to a controversy that arose when first lady Jill Biden courted significant criticms for a statement she made right after the Tigers took the championship title, when, as Fox News notes, Mrs. Biden suggested that in addition to the LSU team coming to Washington, so should the University of Iowa team that was beaten in the final game.

Because it is customary only for the winners to travel to meet the president, and given that the LSU team is predominately Black, and the Hawkeye squad largely white, Mrs. Biden was swiftly accused of racist motives.

Commentator Keith Boykin tweeted at the time, “No Ma'am! When Black women win a national championship, they should not be forced to share the stage with the losing team.”

Former NFL star and sports media personality Shannon Sharpe was even more biting in his reaction, saying, “Come on, Dr. Biden. You know better than this. Did you forget who helped put your husband in the White House? You gonna find out a very serious, hard lesson in '24.”

No Hard Feelings?

Perhaps the person most outraged by Mrs. Biden's invitation to the Iowa team was LSU star forward Angel Reese, who declared on Twitter that the very idea of a shared celebration was “A JOKE,” as the Mail noted.

Even after the White House tried to walk back Mrs. Biden's statement, Reese did not back down, saying, “I'm not gonna lie to you, I don't accept the apology because of, you said what you said. And like, you can't go back on certain things that you say.”

“I mean, you felt like [Iowa] should've came [sic] because of sportsmanship, right?” Reese asked rhetorically, adding, “They can have the spotlight. We'll go to the Obamas. We'll see Michelle. We'll see Barack.”

However, given that Reese and the first lady shared a very public hug on stage during Friday's event, as the New York Post noted, it appears that all is now forgiven.