Commentary

Ex-Duke player lands White House job

Updated: January 18, 2009, 7:10 PM ET
By David Picker | Special to ESPN.com

Sometime Tuesday afternoon, Barack Obama will step into the Oval Office for the first time as president of the United States of America, a nation's problems resting on his slender shoulders. It would be only natural if Obama's throat became parched or the back of his shirt collar became a little moist.

If that happens, Reggie Love will be waiting in the wings -- the West Wing, actually. Love will have office space a few feet from the Oval Office, putting him closer to the president than virtually any other White House staffer. Love's duties -- which come with a new and impressive title, special assistant and personal aide to the president -- will include tending to Obama's personal needs, such as providing a bottle of water or a freshly pressed shirt when needed.

'E:60' profiles Love

In the summer, "E:60" producer David Picker wrote of how former Duke standout Reggie Love walked in the shadow of Barack Obama each day in the presidential campaign. Obama had referred to his traveling staff as a team. "If you want to use a basketball or sports analogy, he is like the team manager," the Illinois senator said at the time of Love, whose campaign duties were not always mundane.

To read Picker's story and watch the full "E:60" feature, click here.
•  ABC News selects Love as "Person of the Week."

"If there are bombs and stuff going off in Gaza, he's not really going to be able to figure out where his papers are at or if he's packed enough clothes," Love said of Obama during a telephone call from Bedford Heights, Ohio, on Friday afternoon. When asked to describe the role he will assume Tuesday, Love added: "It's to lighten the load on a lot of items for the president."

During the presidential campaign, Love, 26, was Obama's "body man," a role given to the closest personal aide of each candidate. The White House comes with a large staff, Love said. But he will continue to handle the most personal tasks.

Love also had a supporting role in his college career. He played three seasons as a backup forward on Duke's basketball team, winning a national title in 2001. He also was a wide receiver for four seasons on the football team. His first job in politics, in 2005, came after tryouts with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.

Love has been to the White House before. Twice, in fact. His first time was in 2001, when President George W. Bush honored Duke's 2001 basketball title. Love returned this past November, just after the presidential election, when Bush invited Obama to the White House. While Bush and Obama chatted privately in the Oval Office, Love got some tips from Bush's personal aide.

"The president said that he remembered when we came down in 2001," Love said, referring to President Bush. "But he did not say, 'Welcome back, Reggie.'"

During the campaign, Love often worked 18-hour days, crisscrossing the nation with Obama. Now he is looking forward to having an actual desk and being in one place for weeks at a time. He recently bought an apartment in Washington, D.C., and plans to walk to work. When he turns up 15th Street and sees the White House in front of him, he gets goose bumps.

"Man, all the time," Love said when asked whether he ever pinches himself to see whether his good fortune was not a dream. "It's almost surreal."

David Picker is a producer for "E:60."