The Slatest

Kevin Ware’s Injury Was So Grisly It Left His Coach Talking About Death

Kevin Ware of the Louisville Cardinals talks with teammate Luke Hancock as Ware is tended to by medical personnel after he injured his leg in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This morning brings some good news for Kevin Ware, the Louisville basketball player who suffered what everyone seems to agree was one of the most gruesome injuries in college sports history on Sunday (via the Louisville Courier-Journal):

Ware underwent successful surgery Sunday night to repair the gruesome open fracture of his right tibia he suffered during the Cardinals’$2 85-63 win over Duke in the Midwest Regional final, and he is expected to remain in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday, U of L announced.

Ware had the bone reset, and a rod was inserted into leg during the operation that lasted about two hours. The wound caused by the bone puncturing through his skin in his lower leg was closed. U of L’s late-night release said no timetable for recovery has been set, but the early prognosis from U of L sports medicine director Fred Hina—given right after the game while Ware was in surgery—was that Ware is bound for a lengthy recovery, but the injury is not likely a career-ending one.

As those two paragraphs suggest, the leg injury was truly horrific. It happened right in front of his team’s bench during the first half, leaving several of his teammates openly weeping, coach Rick Pitino wiping tears from his eyes, and CBS opting to stop showing the replays of the injury within moments of it happening. Pitino, who got an up-close look at the break, estimated that the bone was sticking “six inches out of his leg.” The game was temporarily halted for 10 minutes while medical officials attended to Ware, and players and fans on both sides did their best to process exactly what it was they saw.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Pitino spoke of the incident in the same breath with the deaths of two family members. While he obviously wasn’t making a direct comparison between death and the injury, his remarks suggest just how shaken up he was by the whole thing (via the New York Times, which saved this graph until last):

“I think 9/11 and the loss of a child were probably the two most difficult things in my life,” said Pitino, who lost an infant son to congenital heart failure in 1987 and his brother-in-law, Billy Minardi, in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. “This was very traumatic for us to overcome, because we all witnessed it right up close.”

It’s obviously early, but right now some in the sports world say that Ware could be playing basketball again in a year. That may seem like an eternity for a college student, but it feels closer to a miracle for those who witnessed the gut-wrenching moment live.

WARNING: We’ve embedded the video of Ware’s horrific injury below. As should be clear by now, it’s difficult to watch, and isn’t recommended for those with weak stomachs. Click at your own risk; it’s difficult to un-see.

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This post has been updated with additional information, as well as a little more analysis about Pitino’s post-game comments.