News Column

Kevin Ware's Horrific Leg Injury Stops Everyone Cold

April 1, 2013

Steve Wiseman and Harold Gutmann

INDIANAPOLIS -- The play quieted the raucous crowd of 34,657 in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.

It brought Louisville's players to their knees in tears and caused Duke's players to wince and look away before gathering at their end of the court.

With a little more than six minutes left in the first half of Sunday's NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional championship game, Louisville's Kevin Ware suffered a compound fracture of his right leg after he leaped and tried to block Duke guard Tyler Thornton's 3-point shot.

Ware, a reserve guard, soared past Thornton and landed on his right leg, which buckled awkwardly. The bone, broken in two places, protruded through Ware's skin between his knee and ankle as he lay on his back in front of Louisville's bench.

"I was running back on defense and I just saw his leg in the air," Thornton said. "I hate looking at stuff like that. My heart just dropped when I saw it. Prayers go up to him and his family."

CBS television stopped showing replays of the gruesome incident after the extent of Ware's injury became apparent. The network released a statement saying it would not show any more replays of the play.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino asked the officials to stop play so the medical staff could tend to Ware. The officials did so with 6:33 left in the first half.

"I went over and I was going to help him up," Pitino said. "And then all of a sudden, I saw what it was. And I literally almost threw up. And then I just wanted to try to get a towel to get it over it."

Ware's teammates were visibly emotional, many crying and dropping to their knees on the court.

"When he landed, I heard it," Louisville guard Russ Smith said. "I heard it and ... then I seen what happened come out and I immediately just, just like fell."

Medical personnel brought a stretcher on the court while play was delayed. The Cardinals gathered around Ware as he was lifted up to be taken off the court.

"The bone's 6 inches out of his leg and all he's yelling is, 'Win the game, win the game,'" Pitino said. "I've not seen that in my life. ... Pretty special young man."

Ware was taken to Methodist Hospital where he had surgery Sunday night. Pitino and his son, former Louisville assistant and current Florida International head coach Richard Pitino, stayed overnight in Indianapolis to be with Ware and his family.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he told Pitino during the delay that there was no rush to restart the game.

"Whatever decision they made was going to be okay," Krzyzewski said. "I mean, I could not feel worse that a kid gets hurt in a game. For us or for them. Our prayers are with him."

is hurting the most. As much as they have done for me and this program, to not walk out as champions, it really hurts me."


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