LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware will travel to the Final Four on his crutches and expects to be a big presence for the Cardinals.
Cleared by doctors to accompany Louisville to Atlanta, the sophomore told The Associated Press Wednesday that he plans to be a full participant in the team’s preparation for Saturday’s game against Wichita State. The Cardinals will leave around 7 p.m. for a flight expected to last just over an hour with Ware on it.
Ware said the overwhelming support he has received has helped him maintain his spirits and strengthened his confidence of a full recovery. He hopes by next season to be helping the Cardinals defend the national championship he believes they’ll win this weekend.
The normally reserved 20-year-old calmly recalled how he felt when he suffered the devastating injury, saying he doesn’t think Louisville would be in the Final Four if he had lost his composure.
Ware credits teammate Luke Hancock for calming him down.
“He got me to that point where I really had to put the pain on hold,” said Ware, with his leg in a cast propped up on a couch at the Cardinals’ practice facility. “Once he said his prayer, I was kind of thinking the whole time, ‘you can either be a crybaby about it or you’re going to get your team back and get them in the right mindset’.
“Luke said his words, and I just kept repeating, ‘y’all gotta go win this game.’ I’m fine. ... It really helped the team.”
But it wasn’t easy for the Cardinals, many of whom cried after seeing Ware’s gruesome injury — his bone protruding through his skin.
Even Louisville coach Rick Pitino was emotional, wiping tears from his eyes and later saying that the sight of his player’s injury almost made him vomit.