Video via ESPN.com
In the second half of the NCAA basketball tournament's midwest championship game, Kevin Ware went to block a perimeter jumpshot and dramatically injured himself.
As Ware came to the ground, the force of his fall — combined with the angle at which he landed — resulted in a compound fracture in his right leg. Ware was immediately taken off the court in a stretcher, rushed to the hospital before undergoing surgery to repair his injured leg.
In his first television interview since the injury, Ware told ESPN the support and love he's felt from his team since the accident, not to mention the fact that his team blew out the Blue Devils without him, has been overwhelming.
When asked what waking up with the regional championship trophy at his bedside meant to him, Ware said, "It meant everything to me. They went out there and did that for me. Words can't explain. I love those guys to death. I wouldn't trade them for the world. They're the brothers I never had. I just keep telling them, the job ain't done yet. We got two more games to win, and we'll be cutting the nets down in Atlanta."
Ware said all he could think about in the aftermath of his injury was making sure his team knew he would be fine so that they could go and finish the game. In particular, Ware said he focused on head coach Rick Pitino, repeatedly telling him not to worry.
"Coach P was right there," Ware said. "I looked at him dead in his eyes and said it probably 15 times, like, 'Coach, I'm going to be good. You just got to win this game.' Once I heard them yelling, 'Kevin!' and I'm hearing the crowd applauding, I knew it was going to be fine.
"I just wanted to know that we were going to win the game, honestly. I felt like, if that was the last time I played basketball, I left my mark."
In the interview, Ware said his experience with the leg break has also strengthened his relationship with his teammates and, in particular, Pitino.
"Coach P is my third dad," Ware said. "He's matured me on another level. It's more than just basketball. He's got that through to me that if I never play basketball again it wouldn't matter. He still would help me out however he can."
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