Paul Pelosi attends Kennedy Center Honors in first public appearance since home attack

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave as they arrive at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and her husband Paul Pelosi applaud. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Paul Pelosi and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday night, marking Paul Pelosi’s first public appearance since he was attacked in his San Francisco home in October.

The couple attended the annual ceremony, which honors a select group of people every year for their artistic influences on American culture, along with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses as well. Paul Pelosi, who suffered a fractured skull when his suspected attacker allegedly assaulted him with a hammer, arrived wearing a black hat.

After seeing Paul Pelosi, Mr. Biden pumped his fist in the air.

According to court filings, David Wayne DePape on October 28 broke into the Pelosi home in San Francisco and allegedly bludgeoned the 82-year-old with a hammer. Authorities have said he was looking for Nancy Pelosi, and the FBI affidavit filed in the federal case against DePape also said that San Francisco police “recovered zip ties in Pelosi’s bedroom and in the hallway near the front door of the Pelosi residence.”

The 42-year-old has been charged with attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder and threats to a public official and their family. The Justice Department has also charged the suspected attacker with assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official.

George Clooney, Gladys Knight and Amy Grant were among those honored at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Groundbreaking composer and conductor Tania León and the rock group U2 were also part of this year’s class. 

On the red carpet ahead of the Kennedy Center show, Clooney, with his wife, Amal, beside him, joked that after seeing friends like Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts in attendance he was worried his tribute would be more of a “roast.” And it was a bit of a roast for Clooney, though his friends and family showed obvious respect.

Longtime friend Julia Roberts set the tone by coming out onstage with a dress emblazoned with photos of Clooney all over it. After an introduction that alternated between funny and heartfelt she turned to a set designed to look like a smoky bar — the type Clooney might enjoy. The actor’s father regaled the crowd with stories of a young George, including the time the 7-year-old — heartbroken over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 — gave his father all his toy guns.

Matt Damon took the funny road, joking about how Clooney once stole then-President Bill Clinton’s stationery and wrote notes to fellow actors on it. Cheadle highlighted Clooney’s philanthropic work.

Patti LaBelle called Knight her “everything,” saying they had been friends for six decades and seen each other through laughter and tears. “We do everything together,” LaBelle said. “I am honored to honor you tonight.”

Actor and hip-hop star LL Cool J said that whenever Knight sings she connects with people. “I once heard Gladys sing the ABCs and I thought I was in church,” he said.

Country music superstar Garth Brooks, citing Knight’s “roots in country music,” sang her classic “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Sheryl Crow sang one of Grant’s most famous songs, “Baby Baby,” while veteran news anchor Katie Couric talked about how young Grant was when she was discovered.

The honorees came to the theater from a White House reception where Biden praised them before a star-studded East Room crowd as an “exceptional group of artists.”