Louisiana State University (LSU) basketball team's visit to the White House on Friday, May 26, 2023, turned sour soon after teammate Sa’Myah Smith collapsed during President Biden's speech. The LSU Tigers were honored for winning the national championship in the East Room when the incident occurred. The Tigers won the NCAA title against the Iowa Hawkeyes in April 2023.
Smith, who completed her first season with the Tigers, was standing on the dias along with her teammates when she fainted as the White House staff rushed to help her. She was eventually escorted out of the room in a wheelchair after about six minutes.
Referring to the incident, President Joe Biden remarked that it was not the first time such an incident has occurred and continued congratulating the team's win. Tiger's coach Kim Mulkey later took to the podium to assure everyone that:
"No, Sa'Myah is fine, for those of you who are concerned. Sa'Myah is fine, I'll assure you of that. She's kind of, right now, embarrased. She doesn't want to leave. She wants to stand with us. But she needs to be checked."
Sa’Myah Smith leaves the White House with a gift from President Biden
Smith, a freshman student, plays as a forward for the Louisiana State University's basketball team. She graduated from DeSoto High School in Texas, where she won an award for best player.
She has won several awards for her game and is ranked 57th player in the country and 1st in Dallas by ESPN.
According to the teenager's profile on LSU, Smith has led her DeSoto team to victory in back-to-back Texas Class 6A State Championships during her junior and senior years.
Additionally, the forward was one of ten players nominated for Dave Campbell’s Miss Texas Basketball Player of the Year Award and was honored with the title of Dallas Morning New Player of the Year in 2022.
Smith earned MVP honors in the 2021 State Championship Game and was invited to the 2022 U18 USA Basketball National Team Trials.
Following the incident, the live stream from the celebratory event was cut and LSU released a statement updating everyone on the teenager's health. The statement hinted that she was "overheated and nauseous" prior to the ceremony.
After Smith was released from the White House's care, she spoke with WBRZ sports director Michael Cauble. She explained that she did not remember much about the incident, and added:
"I do remember telling one of my coaches, I was like 'yeah I think I might just pass out... It was kind of hot and we were standing for a while."
Sa’Myah Smith received an autographed, old-fashion leather basketball from President Biden, who wrote:
"Sa'Myah — it was wonderful (to) have you at the White House. You are the best. Joe Biden 5-26-23."
After Sa’Myah Smith's release, she made her way to her hotel as her team prepared to leave for Baton Rouge.
Sa’Myah Smith's faining was not a surprise to her coach, who stated this had happened before during her recruiting visit.