Kevin Ware Begins Recovery After Gruesome On-Court Injury
04/01/2013 AT 08:30 AM EDT
The operation followed Ware's gruesome injury earlier in the day at the NCAA men's basketball tournament – when the 6'2" sophomore jumped to defend a 3-point shot and came down awkwardly, shattering his right his leg in two places.
The bone breaking his skin, Ware lay helpless in front of the Cardinals' bench as stunned teammates and fans looked on.
The athlete, 20, faces at least a year-long recovery after a pin was placed in his leg to reset his right tibia.
"The bone's six inches out of his leg and all he's yelling is 'Win the game, win the game,' " Louisville Coach Rick Pitino told reporters after the game of Ware's courage. "I've not seen that in my life … Pretty special young man."
Joe Theismann, the former Washington Redskin's quarterback who sustained a similar compound fracture after he was tackled by Lawrence Taylor in a 1985 Monday Night Football game, Tweeted his support, writing: "Watching Duke/Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware."
Even while in pain, Ware's focus remained on the game, reported ABC News. The Bronx, N.Y., native and Rockdale County, Ga., high school standout told teammate Chane Behanan at halftime: "Don't worry about me, I'm good. I'll have my surgery tonight. Go win it for me."
The team did just that, later raising the tournament trophy alongside Ware's No. 5 jersey once the Cardinals rallied to win the Midwest Regional over powerhouse Duke, 85-63. This sends Louisville into the Final Four next Saturday in Atlanta.
In addition, friends took to Twitter to post of picture of Ware tucked into his hospital bed with the trophy right beside him. A team doctor also told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Ware is "expected to play again."