Believe it or not, a day and a half after undergoing surgery to repair his mangled lower leg after suffering the most gruesome injury that we’ve ever seen on a basketball court, Louisville’s Kevin Ware was back with his teammates.
His brothers, as he calls them.
Ware suffered the injury in Sunday night’s 85-63 win over Duke and had surgery that evening. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, making the drive back to Louisville with his family and arriving at the Louisville practice facility to meet up with the rest of the team.
As he walked in on one leg and crutches, WAVE 3 Reporter Jaimie Weiss asked him how he was feeling. He responded, “Good. Thank you.” His mother Lisa Junior was right behind her son carrying the Midwest Championship trophy. “Thanks for all your support,” she stopped to say. “Thank you so much. We appreciate it.”
Once inside, each player had the opportunity to give him a hug according to Kenny Klein, Sports Information Director. Ware’s girlfriend Brittany said everyone was crying. “It was very emotional.”
Perhaps most importantly, Ware will be making the trip with the Cardinals down to Atlanta, his hometown, for the Final Four.
I wrote on Sunday after he suffered the injury that we shouldn’t be surprised that the Louisville players were able to block out the distraction of Ware’s injury and trip to the hospital. That’s what athletes were designed to do. They compartmentalize. They can direct their focus on the game at hand, what’s happening on the court, instead of worrying themselves with matters at home or matters at school. They can hit free throws while thousands of students are screaming vile and revolting things at them. They can function with tens of thousands of people in the stands watching their every move and millions more doing the same on TV.
They’re trained to handle issues like this.
But if you saw the reaction of those players after the injury, than you should have a feel for just how close this team is. You should have an understanding of just how much it meant to them that their teammate — their brother — was in such agony.
It wasn’t a distraction, but you’re crazy if you don’t think that it was a motivating factor for the Cardinals to get to Atlanta, to Bring Kevin Home.
And you’re crazy if you don’t think that seeing him in the stands, on crutches, will be a motivating factor for Louisville once they get there.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.