Almost eight years ago, Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered one of the worst NCAA basketball injuries fans have ever witnessed. So, whatever happened to Ware’s basketball career and what is he up to now?
When someone brings up the topic of horrific injuries in sports it’s almost impossible to not think of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s brutal leg injury in an NCAA Tournament game against Duke. It’s one of those moments that you remember where you were when you watched it happen. Kevin Ware is a talented basketball player, but it’s undeniable that his injury is what made him a household name in the United States. After one of the most-gruesome injuries the sports world has ever witnessed, the hashtag #PrayForWare spread like wildfire on social media.
How did Kevin Ware end up at Louisville?
Born in the Bronx, New York in 1993 to Lisa Junior and Kevin Ware Sr. Kevin Ware grew up as the only boy in a family with three sisters. Ware and his family moved to Georgia where he became a basketball star at the local high school. Kevin Ware’s success on the basketball court landed him a spot in ESPN’s Top 100 as a 4-Star recruit with an impressive grade of 92 out of 100. He was the sixth-highest ranked player in the state of Georgia.
Ware initially committed to play at Tennessee, but flipped to Louisville after Vols coach Bruce Pearl was fired. He also considered the in-state Georgia Bulldogs as a possibility but Rick Pitino convinced him to come play for the Cardinals.Ware didn’t play much as a freshman, but became a key contributor off the bench in his sophomore season.
Ware Improves Play During NCAA Tournament Run
Kevin Ware began the 2013 NCAA Tournament with a career-high five assists in Louisville’s first round game and a career-high of 11 points in the Cardinals Sweet Sixteen matchup against the Oregon Ducks.
On March 31st, 2013 Duke and Louisville blessed the college basketball world with an Elite Eight matchup featuring two of the game’s most-successful coaches of all time in Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino. Fans across the country knew this would be a memorable game, however they most-definitely did not know exactly why it would be so memorable.
The Kevin Ware Injury
During the first half of the Blue Devils vs. Cardinals game, Kevin Ware went up to block a shot and landed awkwardly resulting in a compound fracture in his lower leg – meaning both his tibia and fibula were sticking out of his skin. Judging by the reactions from players and coaches from both teams, it was obvious that Ware suffered an incredibly gruesome injury. A jam-packed arena went from rambunctious to silent in a matter of seconds.
Before being carted off the court Ware reportedly told his teammates that he was fine and said “just win the game.” It was one of those moments where you’re not quite sure how either team would be able to finish the game, but they did. Rallying behind their injured teammate, the Louisville Cardinals went on to beat the Duke Blue Devils 85-63 which landed them a spot in the Final Four once again.
Of course Ware wasn’t able to play, but he was with the team during Louisville’s national title winning game against Michigan (which has since been vacated).
The National Response To Ware’s Injury
Almost immediately after the injury occurred, Ware received support from fans nationwide and essentially every single notable figure in the basketball world. He received support from legendary NFL quarterback Joe Theismann, who knew first hand what it feels like to go through such a brutal injury and was also called by former Louisville star running back Michael Bush, who underwent a debilitating leg injury as well.
If you went on social media that day it would have been nearly impossible to navigate any of the platforms without seeing the hashtag #PrayForWare – even non-sports fans took to Instagram and Twitter to show their support. On March 31st, 2013 and the days following, all anyone could talk about was “the Kevin Ware injury”.
How long did it take for Kevin Ware to recover from the injury?
Many feared that Kevin Ware would never be able to run again, let alone play basketball competitively again, but they were wrong. After a long recovery Ware made his return to the floor the following season for the first time in Louisville’s exhibition game against the University Of Pikesville scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds. He went on to play in nine games during that season but ultimately decided to transfer to Georgia State. Ware says his teammates treated him differently after the injury and thought it would be best to play closer to home.
Was Kevin Ware able to fully recover?
Although Georgia State isn’t as prestigious of a program as Louisville, Ware certainly made the most of his time at his new school. The 2014-2015 season was a major success for not only Ware, but Georgia State basketball as a whole. Kevin Ware was named the MVP of the Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament and played a key role in the No. 14 seed Georgia State Panthers nail biter of an upset victory over the No. 3 seed Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
In his final season at Georgia State, Kevin Ware averaged 11.6 points, 3.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds.
Did Kevin Ware ever make it to the NBA?
Kevin Ware never played in the NBA, however he signed to play professionally in Europe following his senior season. After a short stint with Finnish team Kauhajoen Karhu, Kevin Ware signed with a Czech team called BC Brno where he averaged 17.7 points per game. He then signed with Faros Larissas of the very competitive Greek Basket League.
Kevin Ware averaged 12.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in his only year in the Greek Basket League.
What is Kevin Ware up to today?
Kevin Ware went back to Finland where he played for UU-Korihait following his time in Greece. After his second stint in Finland, Ware signed a contract with the London Lightning out of the National Basketball League of Canada. In August of 2020 he signed with the London Lions where he continues to play today alongside former NBA players B.J. Mullens and DeAndre Liggins.
On March 31st, 2013 Kevin Ware suffered one of the most-horrific injuries in the modern sports era and on that same day he decided it wouldn’t end his career. Even though Ware never made the NBA, his story is still that of a champion. Nobody would have blamed Ware if he decided to never play again, but he wasn’t having any of that. Ware continues to play professional basketball today and at the age of 28 he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.