2023 NCAA National Champion LSU Women’s Basketball Team President Joe Biden applauds as he is announced during an event honoring the team in the East Room of the White House on May 26, 2023 in Washington, DC.
The 2023 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships made their trip to the White House for a celebration on Friday, with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden congratulating both teams on their season.
The Louisiana State University Tigers won the women’s basketball championship for the first time with Biden praising their achievements and the example they set.
“You didn’t just play basketball, you didn’t make history, you showed us girls and boys, girls and boys – what it means to be a champion. You gave us hope and joy, the way to find that fire within ourselves. And most importantly, the more likely they are to see you. Thank you for giving us those gifts,” said the First Lady.
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the celebration, congratulating the Tigers on their first-ever championship and praising their inspirational role models.
“With your record-breaking season, you showed the world who you are. You are the leaders. You are a role model, and of course you are a champion. Tigers, we know you changed the game with your grit, determination and brilliance. When you come to court, you inspire a lot of people in our country, and as we’ve said before, you’re inspiring people that you’ll never meet,” Harris said.
During his speech, President Biden celebrated the team’s record-breaking achievements and asked the nation to support women’s athletics.
“Guys, we need to support women’s sports not only during the championship, but throughout the year and every season. “Being in person, being on television, creating more programs and creating sponsorships and scholarships, and sponsorships and opportunities for millions of women and girls to realize their dreams and know that they can do literally anything,” Biden said.
Angel Reese, center, stands with other members of the LSU women’s basketball team during an event to honor the 2023 NCAA national champion LSU women’s basketball team in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Washington, DC.
Later in the day, the Bidens welcomed the NCAA men’s basketball champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies, to their own celebration.
“This team is proof that there is no dropout at UConn, just like there is no dropout in America – there is none. There is nothing we can’t do when we believe we can do it if we work together. And that’s what you all did. You stood up. And that’s what sports and this country is all about: opportunities,” said Verdict.
The president joked about the one-on-one showdown between LSU star Angel Reese and her cousin, Huskies Jordan Hawkins.
“So I set up a basketball on the South Lawn. There’s a court over there by the tennis courts and Jordan thinks your uncle might take you too. So, I want you to know that we’re all coming down to watch that one-on-one game after this.” Biden said.
During LSU’s celebration, the first lady and Reese hugged after the jersey presentation. There was some public drama surrounding the visit after the first lady suggested LSU’s championship opponent, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, be invited as well. Reese disputed the comments, which Biden quickly fired back at and said she and her team would not be visiting the White House. Days later, Reese said she would.
As the president celebrated LSU, he welcomed some of the administration officials and members of Congress who attended the event. Negotiators from the White House and Capitol Hill are working on an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
Two from Louisiana – Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Rep. Garrett Graves, one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s lead negotiators – were on hand to honor LSU.
Biden gave a shout-out to Young, citing Graves’ presence with other lawmakers, who he said was “hopeful for a deal.”
“She’s helping to lead Baton Rouge and Clinton, Louisiana, and the critical budget talks we’re in the middle of right now,” Biden said. But she said, I left the talks to be here.
Graves and Young are both from the Baton Rouge area and have worked together in the past. The parents of the youth are grave bodies.
Proceedings were delayed for a few minutes after the player behind Biden appeared unconscious during the speech. After a few minutes she managed to get up and the people in the room applauded. She then left the room in a wheelchair.
“Like I said, this isn’t the first time it’s happened to a lot of people standing on this stage, not against her,” Biden said.
This story has been updated with additional developments.