Ware walking on crutches after surgery on broken leg
Louisville coach Rick Pitino says sophomore guard Kevin Ware was already up walking on crutches this morning after a two-hour operation last night to repair his broken right leg. School officials say doctors reset the bone and inserted a rod in his right tibia.
Meanwhile, Ware's mother spoke exclusively with Eyewitness Sports.
"He's had to overcome a lot of obstacles, and it seems as if with every obstacle he has to go through he becomes a better man because of it. We don't know why this happened. It's a freak accident but at the end of the day I believe there is a reason for it all. Maybe it's not him. Maybe he will have to pass this testimony on to someone else. I believe it will make him a better person," said Lisa Junior, Kevin Ware's mother.
"He's in very good spirits," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino during a conference call with media. "He's anxious to get out of the hospital and get back with the guys."
Pitino visited Ware at Methodist Hospital after the surgery and again this morning. Ware suffered a gruesome injury Sunday night in the first half of Louisville's 85-63 victory over Duke in the NCAA Midwest Regional final at Lucas Oil Stadium. The win sent the Cardinals to the Final Four next weekend in Atlanta, Ware's hometown.
"Kevin had a good night," said Pitino. "He's not in a whole lot of pain. Right before the surgery, he was able to watch the players at the press conference. The nurses and doctors told me that was the first time he broke down and cried when the players were talking about him."
Pitino saw the injury up close, as Ware fell awkwardly in front of the Louisville bench with 6:33 left in the first half.
"He got up in the air," said Pitino. "When he landed, his leg went one way and the shoe went another way and the bone split."
Pitino says he started to help Ware up when he saw the severity of the injury. The Louisville players were visibly disturbed and shaken. The crowd of almost 35,000, most of them Louisville fans, sat silently stunned for several minutes.
"If it wasn't for Kevin, I don't know if we could have gotten through last night," said Pitino. "He kept saying, ‘Just win the basketball game. I'll be fine. Get me home to Atlanta.' That was on my mind the entire night, how valiant he was with that type of injury."
Pitino says Kevin's mother Lisa arrived in Indianapolis this morning.
"She just needed to see him this morning," said Pitino. "She was crying all night. When she gave him a hug, she was fine. Everything's good right now."
Pitino says doctors have a slight concern for infection because the bone broke through the skin. But otherwise, Ware should be released from the hospital Tuesday to return to Louisville, just a two-hour drive south. The team leaves for the Final Four in Atlanta Wednesday night. Pitino expects Ware to be with the Cardinals.
Pitino says Ware has already received several calls of encouragement, including one from former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who suffered his own famous compound fracture on national television.
The Cardinals are the number one overall seed in the NCAA tourney and perhaps still the favorite to win the national championship, even without Ware.
"Kevin really hurts our basketball team not being there because we are short on backcourt substitutions anyway,' said Pitino. "Kevin has great speed and great length. He was playing the best basketball. Now you don't have any backcourt rotations, just Russ (Smith) and Peyton (Siva)."
Top seed Louisville takes on 9th seeded Wichita State Saturday at 6:09 p.m. at the Georgia Dome in the first national semifinal game. Syracuse takes on Michigan in the second game. Both the Orange and Wolverines are four seeds.