Kevin Ware: broken tibia, not heart

After contesting a 3-point shot, Louisville guard Kevin Ware fell with an awful twist resulting in a 90-degree tibial protrusion accompanied by a compound fracture.

With 6:33 remaining in the first half of the Duke-Louisville Elite Eight matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium, spectators were stunned into silence.

Ware’s teammates buried their faces and sobbed amongst each other. Countless observers cringed in horror. Some stared at the court in utter disbelief.

“As I was watching the game, I thought it was a normal fall,” Bhavik Patel, a Louisville, Ky., resident said in a phone interview. “Then I saw something sticking out of his leg, and I froze.”

As replays instantly went viral on the Internet, the entire nation sent prayers to Ware and his family.

“My heart broke,” assistant women’s basketball coach Mercedes Van Wagner said. “It was awful. You don’t see that happen in basketball.”

While the rest of the world continued to grimace, the Louisville Cardinals focused their attention on securing a Final Four berth.

Ware was no exception.

“Just win the game,” Ware told his team according to ESPN. “I’m okay. Just win the game.”

And win the game they did. In an 85–63 rout, the Cardinals trounced the Blue Devils, outscoring them by 21 points in the second half.

After the game, they held up Ware’s jersey next to the Midwest Region championship trophy.

“(The Cardinals) have ridiculous skill,” assistant men’s basketball coach Caleb Kimborough said. “But that night, you could just see how passionate they were — not just about the game, but about their teammates.”

While his teammates prepared for a Final Four matchup, Ware turned from a student-athlete to a national figure.

The following day, he received reassuring calls from Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and even the first lady, Michelle Obama.

While friends, fans and celebrities alike pay heartfelt condolences, the question inevitably arises: will Kevin Ware suit up for Louisville again?

“I could play ball tomorrow if I really wanted to,” Ware said during an appearance on the Letterman Show.

Setting his sights on a comeback next season, the sophomore guard has tremendous support from coaches and fellow athletes.

“As a coach, I would keep a kid like that involved in the program,” said Guilford’s Athletic Director and head men’s basketball coach Tom Palombo.

Head women’s basketball coach Stephanie Flamini has seen similar injuries on the court and is optimistic about Ware’s return.

“Just by the way he’s reacted, I think he will definitely be back,” Flamini said. “I think he’ll be great.”

In 2005, former Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year Courtney Hill tore her anterior collateral ligament as a senior with 10 games left in the season.

“It’s losing your heart and soul of the team,” Flamini said. “She was never the same player again … but it’s up to the kid to react the right way.

“How is their attitude going to be? Are they going to play scared?”

Kevin Ware looked a lot of things, but scared was not one of them.