University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffered a horrific broken right leg during Sunday’s NCAA Midwest Regional final that left his teammates and coach in tears.
Ware, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, was contesting an outside shot right in front of his own team’s bench when he landed awkwardly and his leg buckled, bending almost at a right angle.
Ware, 20, was taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to repair his leg. School officials said the leg, broken in two places, was reset and a rod inserted into his right tibia. ESPN reported Ware will remain in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said Ware immediately thought about his team the moments after sustaining the injury. Ware told the team that he would be fine and to win the game, according to Pitino.
“The bone’s 6 inches out of his leg and all he’s yelling is, ‘Win the game, win the game,’” Pitino said after the game. “I’ve not seen that in my life. … Pretty special young man.”
Pitino said Ware will need a year to recover from the injury before returning to basketball.
Louisville drew inspiration from Ware’s message and rolled over Duke, 85-63, in the Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Cardinals will play Wichita State in the Final Four next Saturday.
The injury was so gruesome that CBS decided to halt replays of the injury after showing it two times.
The brutal mishap occurred after Ware jumped to contest a 3-pointer by Tyler Thornton. Ware’s leg buckled when he landed. Nearly six seconds ran off the clock before the officials, at Pitino’s urging, stopped the game with 6:33 left in the first half.
Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman famously sustained a broken leg on “Monday Night Football” in a game against the New York Giants in 1985 when he was tackled by Lawrence Taylor. Theisman tweeted, “Watching Duke/ Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware.”
The training staff quickly placed towels over the Ware’s leg. A few feet away, many of Ware’s teammates dropped to the court and cried as they looked on.
“The bone was literally out. I saw white, it was literally out,” said Louisville’s Chane Behanan, who collapsed to his hands and feet at the sight.
The rest of the team eventually huddled at the free throw line with their arms wrapped around each other.
After a lengthy delay, Ware was taken off the court on a stretcher to a rousing ovation from the crowd.
Behanan said he spoke to Ware at halftime.
“He said ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m good, I’ll have my surgery tonight,’” Behanan said. “Go win it for me.”
The Louisville Cardinals celebrated at the end of the game hoisting the Midwest Regional trophy and Ware’s #5 jersey. Overnight, many of Ware’s friends and teammates tweeted a photo of him in his hospital bed with the trophy nestled under his arm.