Man who elbowed Obama in the face speaks

Decerega, in a 1991 yearbook photo from Alexandria's St. Stephen's School.
Decerega, in a 1991 yearbook photo from Alexandria's St. Stephen's School.

On Nov. 26, 2010, President Obama came out of a basketball game with 12 stitches in his lip. Now, over two years later, the man who accidentally elbowed the president in the face is finally speaking about the incident.

“I felt horrible,” Reynaldo Decerega told The Boston Globe. “I've played basketball a million times in my life and I've never elbowed anybody. So the first time I do this, it’s to the President of the United States? What is the probability of that? Nil, right?”

The White House sent out a brief statement from Decerega at the time in which he called Obama "a tough competitor and a good sport." The White House also noted that he also needed a few stitches on his elbow. After that, Decerega asked reporters to respect his privacy and stayed silent.

“I didn't want that to define my life,” Decerega, the director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, told the Globe. “I had no desire to bring attention to myself in an accident that caused somebody pain.

The elbow incident was his second time playing with Obama, and the former varsity "Saint" at St. Stephen's in Alexandria has not been asked back for another game. But he did get a three-picture sequence of the incident with a note: “For Rey, the only guy that ever hit the president and never got arrested. Barack.’’

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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