Everyone in the house fell silent. Minutes later Ware's girlfriend, Brittany Kelly, who'd been summoned from the crowd, called the Juniors from the ambulance to tell them he was hanging in. Shortly thereafter, they were informed that Ware had a broken tibia and would require surgery that night. They watched the rest of the game, saw Behanan don the jersey and waited for more news.
While his teammates celebrated on the court, Ware called from the hospital. He was about to go into a two-hour surgery to have a rod inserted into his leg.
And what was the first thing Ware said?
"Calm down, Mom. I'm O.K."
Lisa figured her son was sedated. But she had been distraught, and Ware's words had a calming effect. What a son: to call and worry about her, and not himself?
Ware did that for his mother, and he had already done something for his teammates that has made him an NCAA tournament legend. Ware has a reputation as "one of the toughest guys I know," backup center Stephan Van Treese says, but that was only for refusing to back down in practice and for battling his way into a star-studded rotation by playing relentless full-court defense.
This was different. Imagine that you're Kevin Ware, and you're staring at part of your tibia, at least until your trainer comes out and gingerly drapes a towel over it to shield everyone, including you, from the gruesomeness. You're potentially looking at the end of your career. It's so bad that even your team priest is nauseated, and Pitino says he "literally almost threw up."
What do you do? You're in unbearable pain, and you're being put on a stretcher. But before you leave, you ask your coach to call over your teammates, who are bawling in various states of disbelief out on the court, keeping their distance because seeing any more might send them over the edge.
"Hey!" Pitino yells to them. "He wants to talk to you."
And what do you say to them, as Smith and Peyton Siva each grasp one of your hands?