Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware is at Methodist Hospital recovering from one of the most gruesome injuries ever suffered in basketball.
It happened in the first half of the Cardinals' 85-63 Midwest Regional Championship victory over Duke at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Kevin Ware jumped up to block a shot and his right leg buckled when he landed. Ware underwent surgery to repair a fractured tibia, which was protruding about six inches out of his skin after Ware fell. The surgery lasted about two hours. The bone was re-set and doctors inserted a steel rod from Ware's ankle to his knee.
The latest pictures show Ware trying out his new crutches. Dr. Walter Virkus, the IU Health Director of Orthopedics Trauma, did not treat Ware, but he's familiar with the kind of injury Ware encountered. Virkus says it's a fairly typical injury, but more commonly seen in car crashes or in falls from a significant height. It's uncommon to see it in sports.
"I think overall tibia fractures have a good prognosis when they happen in young, healthy people," said Dr. Virkus. "I would say many people with this injury would be able to play basketball again without a problem."
But recovery can take anywhere from three to ten months - and that's just getting back to normal, every day activities. Being able to play to the high intensity level of a college basketball game will take longer. Dr. Virkus says Ware faces a rigorous rehabilitation process. Coach Rick Pitino expects Ware, a sophomore, to be out for a year.
Ware is a no-information patient so the hospital cannot release details about his condition, but a University of Louisville spokesperson says Ware is comfortable, anxious to get back to Louisville.
Ware will remain in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday, when he is hopeful to return to Louisville and then join the Cardinals as they advance to the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta. A timetable has not been set for a return to basketball competition.
Ware was a key backcourt reserve for the Cardinals, particularly during the last third of the season. He scored a career-high 11 points against Oregon on Friday in the regional semifinals and handed out a career-best five assists against Colorado State in the third round of the tournament. He has averaged 4.5 points and over 16 minutes a game for the 33-5 Cardinals.
Kevin Ware had three points and a steal before getting injured in the first half.
After the injury occurred, trainers immediately covered the leg with a towel and placed Ware on a backboard, then lifted him onto a stretcher.
Teammates huddled around Ware as he left the court. They were clearly upset when the injury, embracing each other and crying. Coach Rick Pitino wiped tears from his eyes.
The injury occurred with 6:33 left in the first half as Duke's Tyler Thornton made a 3-pointer to get the Blue Devils within 21-20. Ware tried to contest the shot and his leg buckled when he landed.
Ware's right leg bent in such an awkward angle that CBS stopped showing replays shortly after the fall.
"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." Some Louisville fans began chanting his name as he was put on the stretcher.
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 the Chicago Bears.
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