The Kevin Ware Story: Coming Full Circle
Watching Kevin Ware’s leg break last weekend during the Elite 8 sent chills down mine, and all of America’s spine. Seeing a young man attempting a routine block on Tyler Thornton’s 3-point attempt from the right wing, and subsequently having his basketball career forever altered represents the uncertainty and risk that all athletes take when they compete. Kevin Ware’s injury was as freak as it was gruesome; as heartbreaking as it was unlucky.
The true story here does not lie in the injury itself. It begins right after the injury (seen by millions across the nation). Instead of writhing in pain and self-absorbed pity as many would have done (myself included), Ware desired to speak to his coaches and fellow teammates. His message? “Just win the game”. As Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reiterated, Ware was concerned about the bigger picture, and with hoping to rally his team to “take him home to Atlanta”, the site of this year’s Final Four and National Title game.
There is no protocol on how to deal with the gruesome injury to a fallen teammate; a brother and close friend. Louisville teammates Russ Smith and Chane Behanan are seen over and over on film sobbing uncontrollably. They realized that, above all, this would be a day that they would remember for the rest of their lives. The air was sucked right out of Lucas Oil Stadium. The atmosphere was one of shocked sadness, not a place where fierce competition was brewing. I saw teammates and fans from both sides bowing their heads in prayer, and many sitting in the stands with hands clasped together covering their mouths; eyes wide open and their emotions on their sleeve. What had happened was unthinkable, yet within the realm of possibility for any athlete competing in a sport.
The true testament lies with Ware, himself. The young man had a compound fracture (his leg broke in two places and was sticking six inches out of his skin). The fact that he put his team’s needs in front of his own, and demanded that they simply “win the game”, speaks volumes to this young man’s character. Often times, college sports are full of young, cocky, and self-righteous athletes that see themselves as larger than life due to their athletic prowess in a given field of competition. Kevin Ware restored my own personal faith, that collegiate athletes still maintain a sense of pride for their craft, and that despite suffering such a traumatic injury, that they could come full circle and shock people.
The young man’s bone was sticking out of his skin. Today he gave an interview with ESPN, showing smiles and sobs alike. He sobbed when discussing his teammates, and gave an ear-to-ear smile when asked about his future and recovery. What Kevin Ware taught me is this, you can face adversity and decide to look at it in one of two perspectives. A). you can sit in the dark and cry because something has happened to you. Conversely (B). you can look at these events and feel challenged to overcome them, and render yourself completely helpless to these occurrences in life as they happen by “chance”, face them and move forward positively.
ESPN showed, on repeat, Ware walking on crutches, with his family behind him, holding the Regional Championship trophy. Astonishment is one way to look at this situation, or you can look at Kevin Ware as a symbol for everything that is right in sports. The fallen teammate rises to meet the challenges and expectations that so many felt he would not be able to. Time will tell all, but if Ware’s initial reaction to this horrible situation is any indication, look for him to come back and compete better than ever. After all, perspective is everything in not just sports, but in life, and Kevin Ware has a solid grasp on a concept that many fail to ever accept.