Michelle Obama Recalls the Test Barack Had to Pass to Get Her Family's Approval

Michelle and Barack Obama
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Barack Obama had his work cut out for him when trying to get the approval of wife Michelle's family when they first started going out. 

The former first lady had her brother, Craig Robinson, on the fourth episode of her podcast, The Michelle Obama Podcast, and he talked about his sister's dating life and when he "finally" met Barack.

"There may have been one or two guys you dated that I absolutely did not like,” Craig, 58, admitted to his sister. "But for the most part, your decisions on who to date were solid, you know, just being able to judge people, and develop your own relationships, and be able to navigate that at a young age. You were usually a pretty short-term dater. 'Eh, lemme date this guy for a month -- nah.' Then lo and behold, you meet Barack Obama."

Craig recalled when Michelle first brought Barack to meet her family for the first time.

"So after a while, you were, like, finally gonna let us meet him. You drove up in your nice black Saab, and you were driving of course, and he gets out of the passenger side," Craig shared. "I remember the first thing Mom said, 'Oh, he’s tall, he’s kinda good lookin.'"

He continued, "And Michelle made it clear that what her family thought about Barack was important to her.

Michelle interjected, "So, I did ask you. In the way that we learned, that you could check out the character of another dude, was to take him on the court and play some basketball."

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My brother @craigmalrob is someone who will always be there for me, someone who will lift my spirits, and keep me in check. He’s known me from the first breath I took––and that’s a gift that has no parallel in my life. I know that not everyone has siblings of their own—some of us might have fraught relationships with our brothers and sisters, and others might have lasting connections with friends that take on a sibling relationship. But no matter the specifics of our situations, hopefully we’re all lucky enough to have someone who knows us inside and out—someone who gives us the strength to take flight. For me, that’s Craig. And on this week’s episode of The #MichelleObamaPodcast, we reflect on everything from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to our perspectives as parents. You can listen to our conversation now by clicking the link in my bio.

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Craig, the former head men's basketball coach at Oregon State University and Brown University, was not immediately down with that idea. "I’m like, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. These are professionals I play with, we can’t just be bringing some guy there, it’ll make him look bad," he remembered telling his sister. "So I was like, 'Ugh, lemme figure out how to do this.'"

He then shared why it was important to Michelle that Barack shoot hoops with them. "So we have this pickup game, and when you play pickup basketball, a lot is based on integrity. Because you have to call your own fouls, there are no referees," Craig explained.  "And there’s always that guy who acts like he’s a good dude until he has to make his own calls, and he’s callin’ fouls all the time."

Michelle's brother was happy to report, "Barack wasn’t that guy, and that was good to see, that was the first thing. The second thing is, he could actually play a little bit. He wasn’t lying about that he played, about how good he was. He was just like, ‘I play a little bit.' It spoke a lot to his authenticity, as far as I was concerned."

"That was kind of a big star in his column," Michelle said of the moment. 

Craig added, "I'm glad it worked out."

Twenty-seven years of marriage later, Michelle and Barack are still going strong! Check out the video for more with the happy couple. 


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