LSU player Sa'Myah Smith fainted and collapsed during Biden speech at White House celebration of NCAA women's basketball championship

May 28, 2023
Ben Marquis

On Friday, President Joe Biden welcomed to the White House the men's and women's NCAA basketball championship teams of the University of Connecticut Huskies and the Louisiana State University Tigers, respectively.

The White House live feed of the event honoring the LSU women's team was briefly interrupted following a scary moment in which one of the players fainted and collapsed on stage while Biden was speaking, the Daily Caller reported.

It was revealed just a short time later that the player, identified as Sa'Myah Smith, was fine, and Biden, who initially appeared visibly concerned, remarked that it was not uncommon for some people to faint while standing for long periods of time during White House events.

Player falls out during Biden's speech

The event began with remarks from first lady Jill Biden -- who sparked controversy after initially appearing to invite both LSU and the runner-up the University of Iowa Hawkeyes to the White House -- followed by a brief speech from Vice President Kamala Harris before President Biden finally began to speak with the LSU team members, coaches, and other personnel standing closely together on the stage.

At one point during the president's remarks, as he was referencing a similar event scheduled for later with the champion UConn Huskies men's team, the player suddenly fainted and collapsed and caused a moment of chaos and confusion as players and staff scrambled to move out of the way in order to clear space for medical personnel and Coach Kim Mulkey to tend to the fallen player.

Despite his own apparent concern, at least initially, Biden repeatedly attempted to reassure the audience that everything was ok and said, "Everything is all right. It’s a lot of standing. I apologize."

Following a pause of the event for several minutes, during which the White House feed was cut but cameras for other media outlets streaming the event continued to roll, the president picked back up right where he left off in his prepared remarks when the event resumed after he said, "Well, it’s -- like I said: This is not the first time it’s happened, not to her but to any -- a lot of folks standing up on this stage."

A little bit later, when Coach Mulkey stepped forward to say a few words, she first joked, "Sa’Myah planned that," but then said more seriously, "No, Sa’Myah is fine."

"For those of you who are concerned, Sa’Myah is fine. I’ll assure you of that," the coach added. "She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed. She doesn’t want to leave; she wants to stand with us, but she needs to be checked out."

Controversy over an initial apparent double invite to both winning and losing teams

There had actually been some rumors in the immediate aftermath of the NCAA women's basketball championship game that LSU would not accept an invitation to visit the White House after some of the team's players, such as star Angel Reese, had taken offense to a faux pas from the first lady when she seemingly extended an unprecedented invitation to both the winning and losing team in that game.

According to the New York Post, Jill Biden, who was in attendance at the game, said the next day, "I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House; we always do," but then added, "So, we hope LSU will come, but, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come too, because they played such a good game."

That didn't sit well at all with Reese -- who sparked a controversy of her own over her sportsmanship by excessively taunting Iowa's star player Caitlin Clark -- who called the unprecedented apparent double-invitation a "joke" and made other critical comments that eventually prompted a walk-back of the first lady's comments by her spokesperson.

Ironically enough, Reese, a co-captain of the team, was prominently featured and praised repeatedly during the White House event on Friday by President Biden in particular along with the first lady and Vice President Harris.

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