President Obama Traces His Love of Basketball to an Xmas Gift from his Absent Father

By Jennifer Parker

Dec 12, 2009 2:21pm

One of the most significant Christmas presents President Obama ever received was a basketball from the father who was largely absent from his life, the president told Oprah Winfrey. This and other Xmas revelations are part of "Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special," set to air Sunday night on ABC at 10 p.m. ET. A web video preview can be seen HERE. Asked his favorite Christmas gift as a child, the president recalled a 10 speed bike and then said, "I do remember the one time I met my father he was visiting during Christmas and he gave me a basketball and – the degree to which I came to love basketball – it wasn't until much later in life that I realized, ‘Actually, he gave me that basketball.' I think there was some cause and effect there in terms of the degree to which I just ended up taking up the sport as a kid who didn't know his dad." The First Lady's favorite childhood gift was "a metal doll house with plastic furniture … I remember I really didn't know how to set up a house so I had all the furniture lined up along the walls as opposed to nestled around the fireplace, but I loved that little doll house." Pressed by Winfrey, the First Lady said she had an Easy Bake Oven "but you know once you run out of the mix it's like you're done with it." The president says he's a better gift-giver than the First Lady: "Here's the general rule, I give nicer stuff than I get," he said. "No way," said the First Lady. "I gave you good gifts last year." One doesn’t have to be a biped to get a gift, though, the Obama's reveal. "Bo has a stocking," said the First Lady. "Santa loves Bo, too." Winfrey said in a statement released by Harpo, her production company: "From the very first day they moved into the White House, I started calling Robert Gibbs and asking not for the first interview because number one, I didn't think I was going to get the first interview for the first 100 days — but I wanted an opportunity to sit down with them in a comfortable setting that all of America would be familiar and relate to. So I started asking when they first moved in to do a Christmas Special, because I wanted to be at the White House during Christmas time and to experience their first Christmas in the White House. So this has been in the making for a very, very long time." – jpt

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