Apr 3, 2013; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals player Kevin Ware (right) and his mother Lisa Junior (left) attend at a press conference at the KFC Yum! Center practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Borton/Special for the Louisville Courier-Journal via USA TODAY Sports
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Before heading south to Atlanta for this weekend's Final Four, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, Kevin Ware and his mother spoke at a press conference Wednesday about the Rockdale grad's horrific leg injury and his come back.
"I'm a very quiet guy so a lot of this is very new to me. I just really appreciate everybody and the support I have right now. Getting all this attention, it's not me, but it's really appreciated," Ware said. "All the support I'm getting, all the fans, I've been touched by everyone. There's a reason behind everything, I'll soon find out what the reason is going to be. It's just a process I'm ready for."
"I think we're all fine now," Pitino said. "Once I saw the doctors and they told me 'he's going to be fine, the surgery went great' ... right now, I think just having Kevin around and joking around, we all feel at ease, we can all exhale a little bit. Everybody was just so happy to see him, when we all found out that he's going to be fine, we were all relieved. It's exciting to have him with us. I know the guys are fired up to get him to Atlanta."
Ware, a sophomore from Rockdale, underwent successful surgery at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Sunday to repair a broken bone in his right leg. He sustained the injury just hours before as Louisville defeated Duke in the Midwest regional final. Pitino said he had never experienced anything like when Ware went down with the injury.
"It was a very different experience because at first I went to help him up and as I'm getting ready to help him I actually didn't know what I was looking at," Pitino said. "And he saw my eyes and just said 'oh, my God,' and from that point the only words he uttered were 'just win, I'll be fine.'"
After the 85-63 win over Duke that sent Louisville to its second consecutive national semifinal, and the outpouring of emotion and attention paid to the injury and his recovery, Ware said the team's focus is still on beating Wichita State on Saturday and winning the national championship Monday night at the Georgia Dome.
"I don't think I have to tell them anything, I think they'll just look on the bench and see me sitting there," Ware said of his teammates. "This (is) one of those things where I don't think we need to be motivated."
After Pitino and Ware spoke to the assembled media, Ware's mother, Lisa Junior, who like her son was wearing a "Win it for Kevin" T-shirt, also spoke.
"He's a very resilient young man, always has been, always had some type of adversity in his life that he had to overcome. I'm just proud of him ... I couldn't be any prouder," she said.
Pitino confirmed that Ware would travel with the team to Atlanta Wednesday night.
"The worst part is over (but) I'm just worried about him getting his rest, not over doing it," said Junior. "He wants to do the media, he wants everyone to know that he's OK and so appreciates the prayers and blessings."