Player faints during LSU Tigers’ national title celebration at the White House

The team dominated the Iowa to win the first basketball title in school history.

May 26, 2023, 5:11 PM

The LSU Tigers women's basketball team’s national championship celebration at the White House on Friday was marked by a scary moment when a player fainted during the event.

Sa'Myah Smith, a freshman forward, seemed to signal she was in distress before she collapsed. The event paused for several moments while medical staff attended to her,

PHOTO: Louisiana State University team member Sa'Myah Smith flashes a thumbs-up after collapsing during a celebration of the team's NCAA Division I women's basketball national championship in the East Room of the White House on May 26, 2023.
Louisiana State University team member Sa'Myah Smith flashes a thumbs-up after collapsing during a celebration of the team's NCAA Division I women's basketball national championship in the East Room of the White House on May 26, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Eventually, applause broke out when Smith was helped to a chair and wheeled out of the event. Later on, head coach Kim Mulkey assured the crowd she was alright and more embarrassed than anything.

"That's not the first time that's happened," President Joe Biden said. "Not to her but to a lot of folks standing on that stage."

PHOTO: Player Sa'Myah Smith collapses during the event as President Joe Biden hosts a ceremony for the Louisiana State University Tigers women's basketball team to celebrate their 2022-2023 NCAA Championship season, at the White House, May 26, 2023.
Player Sa'Myah Smith (obscured) collapses during the event as U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a ceremony for the Louisiana State University Tigers women's basketball team to celebrate their 2022-2023 NCAA Championship season, at the White House in Washington, May 26, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Aside from the scare, the event also saw some mending of fences between team co-captain Angel Reese and Dr. Jill Biden.

The tiff began after the first lady suggested she would invite both LSU and the team it defeated to the White House. Reese called that a "joke" and suggested that she would not come to the White House before ultimately agreeing to attend.

Reese helped present jerseys to the Bidens and gave them hugs.

"Watching you was pure magic," the first lady said of the team’s performance in the NCAA championship. "The way you pass, like you can read each other's thoughts. The air crackling with the electricity of that connection. The crowd seemed to breath with one breath. Our hearts racing to the rhythm of each thump of the ball."

"Every basket was pure joy, and I kept thinking about how far women's sports have come," she continued.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden get jerseys from the champion Louisiana State University Women's Basketball Team at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2023.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The president also gave Reese a shout out in his remarks, saying he "wasn't surprised" when she was named the most outstanding player.

"You know, you made it more expensive for people to come. The cost of tickets went up 10 times. 10 times. And more than the men's games," Biden said to laughter.

Present at the event were two top debt ceiling negotiators and Louisiana natives: Rep. Garret Graves and Office of Budget and Management Director Shalanda Young. Both took a break from ongoing talks to commemorate the team.

"She's now helping lead the critical budget talks we're in the middle of now. But she said, 'I'm not - I'm leaving the talks to be here,'" Biden said of Young in what was his only reference to the budget talks during the event.

The Tigers dominated the Iowa Hawkeyes to win their first basketball title in school history.

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