Days after he broke his leg on a nationally televised Elite Eight game, Louisville Cardinals guard Kevin Ware said his focus is on seeing his team head to the Final Four—and win a national title.
Ware also described what happened with 6:33 to go in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Duke Blue Devils as he was sprawled on the court.
He’d been through a similar play when Louisville played Duke earlier in the season. But this time, Ware said, he landed the wrong way.
He praised his teammate Luke Hancock, who rushed to Ware’s aid in the moments after the injury.
“I looked down at my legs and my bone is six inches out of my leg and I go into automatic shock,” Ware said in a news conference Wednesday packed with local and national news media. “And I really, really want to thank Luke, because Luke jumped right on that scene and he said a prayer for me.”
Coach Rick Pitino also described the events from his perspective—and gave his praise to Ware for his composure.
“I actually didn’t know what I was looking at for about five seconds—and he saw my eyes and then he looked and he just went back, ‘Oh, my God.’ And from that point, the only other words he uttered were, ‘Just win, I’ll be fine.’”
“Three or four years ago, I said, ‘We have to come up with a new brand, because I’ve been here a long time.’ It was going to be ‘Louisville first.’ The only thing we care about is Louisville, a university, not the names. And here, four years later, if anything could epitomize what that brand is all about it’s Kevin Ware and the other players, to be honest with you.”
Pitino said he didn’t believe that the elevated court used for the game contributed to the injury.
Ware’s mother, Lisa Junior, said she watched the game with friends, anticipating that the Cardinals would win and next play in Ware’s hometown, Atlanta.
He was released on Tuesday and returned to be with his teammates—a reunion he said he relished. He’s gotten plenty of attention since the injury. Some bad—he called people who created fake Twitter and Instagram accounts attributed to him “disrespectful.” But most of the attention has been positive, including communication with first lady Michelle Obama and NBA star Kobe Bryant.
“But there’s nothing like seeing my teammates,” Ware said. “We’re brothers and I wouldn’t trade these guys in for the world. There’s just a bond there that will never be broken, and that’s just as real as it gets.”
“Our goals are still the same,” he added later. “My injury or not. I still want to win a national championship just like if I was out there playing. When we cut down the nets, that’s what’s going to be most important.”