Updated: 5:47 p.m.
President Barack Obama received 12 stitches in his lip after a basketball game Friday with friends and members of his family in town for the holiday.
”After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player’s elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit. They were done in the doctor’s office located on the ground floor of the White House,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
The president played basketball at Fort McNair for an hour and a half in the morning. Players in the five-on-five game included Obama’s assistant Reggie Love, Obama’s nephew Avery Robinson and Education Secretary Arne Duncan — none of whom were responsible for the elbow to the lip, according to the White House.
The White House later announced the culprit behind the elbow to Obama’s face: Rey Decerega, who is the director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Decerega said in a statement that the game was all in good fun. “I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport. I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning. I’m sure he’ll be back out on the court again soon,” he said.
The medical unit that treated Obama used a smaller filament than typically used, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar. Obama was given a local anesthetic while receiving the stitches.
Obama was spotted mid-afternoon in a second-floor window of the White House holding an ice pack to his lip. He was watching down below as the first lady and his daughters formally accepted the White House Christmas tree, which was delivered to the Obamas in a horse-drawn cart that rode up to the residence.