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Obama's Lip Gets Serviced

  • Obama_nurses_lip.jpg

    President Obama leaves a Washington, D.C. basketball game caring for a split lip Friday, November 26. (AP photo)

  • Obama_nurses_lip_FLEX_0.jpg

    President Obama cares for his split lip in the White House residence Friday, November 26. (AP photo)

President Obama's post-Thanksgiving Friday was anything but restful after he played some hoops and walked away with a split upper lip requiring 12 stitches.

"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," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

The White House had been tight-lipped about the perpetrator, but late in the day, he revealed himself. Rey Decerega, who works for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, was the man behind the elbow.

"I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport," Decerega said in a statement. "I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning. I'm sure he'll be back out on the court again soon."

The president frequently plays ball at a variety of indoor courts around Washington during his down time. Friday morning, he played a series of five-on-five games at Ft. McNair, a military facility in the city.

Also joining Mr. Obama were members of his family, who were in town for the holiday, and returning player, presidential assistant Reggie Love, who played for the Duke Blue Devils 2001 championship team.

Usually, the after-game talk centers around how Mr. Obama's team handily beat the competition. This time, the buzz was about the video and still photos the press shot of the president dabbing his lip with what looked like gauze.

It turns out Decerega accidentally clocked the president, who was on defense, while trying to take a shot. The injury was sustained in the fifth and final game of the day.

When the president returned to the White House, he received the stitches in the White House doctor's office located on the ground floor. The president was given a local anesthetic for the procedure.

While the injury required a lot of stitches, a senior administration official says that was not an indication of its severity. "The Medical Unit used a smaller filament which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and results in a smaller scar," the official said.

After all, who wants a big scar, especially when you're under the presidential microscope?

President Bush, known for his adventurous mountain biking skills, sustained a few bike-related injuries while in office; once scraping his chin, upper lip, nose, knees and hand.

After the collision, the president recuperated privately in the White House residence on a day with no public events. However, even then he couldn't escape the cameras.

As the first lady and daughters Sasha and Malia received the official White House Christmas tree on a horse-drawn carriage, the president was seen looking down on the festivities from an upstairs window. He was nursing his lip with what appeared to be an ice pack. Mr. Obama was not scheduled to be a part of the event, anyway.

The president's nephew, Avery Robinson, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan were also among the group of players in Friday's historic game.