Louisville's Ware suffers gruesome leg injury
A gruesome injury that left Louisville guard Kevin Ware with a broken leg plunged Lucas Oil Stadium into horrified silence, with coach Rick Pitino wiping away tears and shocked teammates openly weeping during Sunday's Midwest Regional final.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A gruesome injury that left Louisville guard Kevin Ware with a broken leg plunged Lucas Oil Stadium into horrified silence, with coach Rick Pitino wiping away tears and shocked teammates openly weeping during Sunday's Midwest Regional final.
Ware's right leg bent in such an awkward and frightening angle that CBS stopped showing replays shortly after the fall in the NCAA tournament matchup against Duke.
"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."
A few hours later, Pitino showed up at the hospital where Ware had surgery, during which he had the bone reset and a rod placed in his right tibia, with a gift: the regional championship trophy the Cardinals won by beating Duke 85-63.
"He was groggy, in good spirits. He saw us win the trophy and was crying and said it was all worthwhile," Pitino told The Associated Press. "We didn't cut down the net, but I left him the trophy."
Pitino said Sunday that he and his son Richard, who recruited Ware, and an equipment manager would spend the night in Indy, along with the team's doctors.
Viewers who saw the injury on TV reacted on social networks and #KevinWare shot to one of the top worldwide trending topics on Twitter. Video of the injury was posted on YouTube -- CBS initially replayed it twice before changing course.
With 6:33 left in the first half, Ware tried to contest a 3-pointer by Duke's Tyler Thornton. Ware's leg buckled when he landed, bending almost at a right angle.
Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein said hospital officials told the school that Ware was "resting comfortably" and that the pain was "under control."
Louisville athletic trainer Fred Hina called the injury an "open fracture of the lower leg."
"Obviously at the time it happened, the most important thing was to stabilize it and then to transfer him to an advanced care center as soon as possible," Hina said.
One of Ware's teammates and closest friends, Chane Behanan, couldn't believe what was happening.
"The bone was literally out. I saw white, it was literally out," said Behanan, who collapsed to his hands and feet at the sight.
The two spoke 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.'"
Pitino said Ware's leg broke in two spots and that he will need a year to recover from the injury.
Pitino said the injury is similar to the broken leg suffered in 2006 by Louisville star football player Michael Bush, who made his NFL debut in 2008 and has had a productive career with the Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears.
It turned out Bush was watching the game on TV.
"I just cried," he wrote on Twitter. "I feel so bad. Flashback of myself. Anyone if he needs anything please let me know."
Ware was taken off the court on a stretcher.
The injury happened right in front of Pitino and the Louisville bench, and several Cardinals were overcome with emotion.
Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear fell to the floor, crying, and Behanan looked as if he was going to be sick on the court, kneeling on his hands and feet. Peyton Siva sat a few feet away, a hand covering his mouth.
"I dropped to go the ground. I've never seen anything like that," Behanan said. "I don't remember the last time I cried."
Luke Hancock patted Ware's chest as doctors worked on the sophomore and Russ Smith -- who is from New York City, like Ware -- walked away, pulling his jersey over his eyes. Even Pitino wiped tears from his eyes during the nine-minute delay.
Someone finally pulled Behanan to his feet, but he doubled over and needed a few seconds to gather himself. As Ware was being loaded onto the stretcher, the Cardinals gathered at mid-court until Pitino called them over, saying that Ware wanted to talk to them before he left.
In the immediate aftermath, those who had been watching the game on television took to social media to express their concern. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who famously sustained a broken leg during a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants, tweeted: "Watching Duke/Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware."
Louisville, the top overall seed in the tourney, went more than 3 minutes without scoring after the injury but regained its composure to take a 35-32 halftime lead and went on to an 85-63 victory.
"We won this for him," Pitino said. "We were all choked up with emotion for him. We'll get him back to normal. We've got great doctors, great trainers. We talked about it every timeout, 'Get Kevin home.'"
Ware, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from the Bronx, was instrumental in Louisville's victory over Oregon in the regional semifinals. He scored 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting in 25 minutes off the bench.
Behanan switched into Ware's No. 5 jersey near the end of the game.
Afterward, he kept it on and the Cardinals players led the heavily partisan Louisville crowd in chants of "Kev-in, Kev-in." Behanan then took the jersey off and continually held it up next to and underneath the Midwest Region championship trophy.
"Kevin's like a brother to me," Behanan said. "We're always together."
ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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