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White House trip a special one for Lady Bears and one of their biggest fans

US President Barack Obama holds up a jer

US President Barack Obama holds up a jersey during a ceremony honoring the 2012 NCAA Women?s College Basketball Champion Baylor Bears in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 18, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

AFP/Getty Images

The national champion Baylor Lady Bears finally made their visit to the White House on Wednesday, meeting President Barack Obama and giving the President a jersey to commemorate the occasion.

President Obama praised the Lady Bears for their dominant run through the season, as they became the first college basketball team to win 40 games (and go 40-0).

But they also had a special fan with them, as 11-year old Haley Klepper and her family made the trip from Waco as well.

Klepper, who has a rare mitochondrial disorder, was introduced to the team by head coach Kim Mulkey before the season began and the Lady Bears took Haley and her sister Hannah under their wing.

“She’s a Baylor Bear,” said center Brittney Griner. “Just seeing her fight every day and hear her story and what she went through, it makes us fight. It makes us want to go hard.”

“It put basketball in perspective, and it put some of (their) lives in perspective,” the coach said. “There’s more to life than just basketball, and sometimes we need to meet the Haleys of the world to realize that.”

Haley and her family were able to meet President Obama following the ceremony, and the President also praised the Lady Bears for their community service work.

And given the fact that Griner, guard Odyssey Sims and a host of other key contributors are due to return Baylor could very well make a return trip in 2013.

Photo credit: AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.