Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff speaks to basketball clinic, meets All-Stars, takes in HBCU game

Emhoff saw action between Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff was in the first row on Saturday.

The husband of Vice President Kamala Harris was courtside for the HBCU Classic at the NBA’s All-Star weekend in Indianapolis, taking in a college game between Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State. He spoke earlier Saturday at a basketball clinic, as did some WNBA players, for girls between the ages of 7 and 17.

Emhoff makes no secret of his basketball fandom; he’s been a Los Angeles Lakers season ticket holder for years. In her 2019 memoir, Harris revealed that Emhoff initially reached out to her by a text message he sent from a Lakers game.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, left, watches during the HBCU Classic NCAA college basketball game between Winston-Salem State and Virginia Union in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

“It’s what brings us together,” Emhoff said of sports in an interview with The Associated Press. “Because of what’s happening in the real world, sports is one of those things that we can all agree on. It brings us together. We can be in a room with 20,000 people, all cheering for the same thing, we can all talk about it, I can talk to my son about it, I can talk to my father about it. It brings generations together.”

At the basketball clinic, Emhoff told the players that sports can be a great tool to address gender inequities.

“When there’s things that aren’t fair, in particular to women and girls, I can use this microphone to advocate that that’s just not right,” Emhoff told the girls as they broke into applause. “Things need to be fair, things need to be equal and men need to support women.”

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Emhoff has often represented the U.S. at sporting events, leading delegations when asked to do so by President Joe Biden. He was with the U.S. women’s national soccer team when it played in the World Cup, watched Allyson Felix medal at the world track and field championships, was present at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Paralympics and even has thrown out a ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals game.

“It’s one of the greatest parts of being second gentleman,” Emhoff said. “First, of course, is being married to the vice president and supporting her. But all these things you dream about and see on TV and also representing your country. I love my country. We all love our country. I’m a patriot. And to be able to be a representative of the United States, leading presidential delegations … there’s nothing like it.”

Sports is a lifelong passion for Emhoff. He was an athlete and still plays fantasy football. And yes, even the second gentleman got a little excited to see NBA stars practice before the college game.

“I’m texting a bunch of people now from here like, ‘Oh my God, I’m courtside and I just saw Steph Curry and all these legends,’” Emhoff said. “So, I’m just like everyone else. I’m geeking out here.”

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