First word of the injury came in a statement from press secretary Robert Gibbs nearly three hours after the incident.
The White House did not initially name the person who caused the injury, but identified him later Friday as Rey Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
The president had gone to nearby Fort McNair to indulge in a game of basketball, one of his favorite athletic pursuits. It was a five-on-five contest involving family and friends. Among the players were Obama’s nephew, Avery Robinson, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Reggie Love, Obama’s personal assistant, who played at Duke University.
The White House said the injury happened during their fifth and final game when Decerega turned to take a shot and hit Obama, who was playing defense, in the mouth with his elbow.
Obama was later spotted by reporters through an upstairs White House window holding what appeared to be a compress against his mouth, while the White House Christmas tree was being delivered outside.