Minutes after University of Louisville player Kevin Ware suffered a serious injury in the March 31 Elite Eight game against Duke, social media exploded with comments and videos of the terrible moment when he collapsed on the floor. Many were shocked by the gruesome sight of Ware’s tibia sticking six inches out of his right leg; others left prayers for him on Facebook and Twitter.
Kevin’s teammates and spectators close to the court at first recoiled in horror, but for Kevin’s mother, Lisa Junior, the worst part was not being there. She was more than eight hours away, watching the game with her husband, Wesley Junior, at a friend’s house in Conyers, Ga.
“I wasn’t sure exactly what happened,” Kevin’s stepfather, Wesley, said. He was trying to figure out why players were on the floor, grief-stricken. Then he heard the announcement about Kevin’s injury and saw the replay. Lisa was distraught, he said.
“We were devastated,” Lisa said. “We just wanted to hear from Kevin.”
Kevin, a sophomore guard, had attempted to block a three-point shot from Duke player Tyler Thornton. His leg buckled underneath him when he landed.
Lisa and Wesley prayed together that the injury wasn’t too serious and that Kevin would be OK. According to reports, Louisville forward Luke Hancock had also prayed for Kevin on the court moments after the injury, kneeling over his fallen teammate. Kevin later said that prayer let him know he would be all right.
That day’s game was at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Kevin was taken to a hospital nearby and called his mom. He told her to calm down; he was OK.
“I was just thankful that it was placed in him to give me a call, knowing that I needed to hear from him,” Lisa said.
She and Wesley boarded a plane early the next morning and went directly to the hospital from the airport. It was scary not knowing what to expect, she said.
“We don’t know why this happened,” she told media earlier this week. “It was a freak accident, but at the end of the day, I believe that there is a reason for it all. Maybe it’s not for him; maybe he’ll have to pass this testimony onto someone else, but I believe it will make him a better person, a stronger person, and I have no doubt he’ll be back bigger and stronger.”
On Thursday, Lisa said she doesn’t yet know the reason for her son’s injury, but “I think it’s all in preparation for a bigger plan.”
Lisa has encouraged her son his whole life, she said, whether with a Bible verse or lesson she’s learning in her own life. The lesson for her now is patience while trusting in God.
“Whatever His will is, it will be done,” she said.
Kevin, who will miss his chance to play in the Final Four this weekend, is also staying optimistic. Even with the media attention, Lisa said, he is the same soft-spoken and focused son he was before the injury.
“Everything happens for a reason, and this is just another obstacle I had to face,” Kevin told CNN. “This is all God. This is in God’s plans. … He controls everything. … If He kind of felt like that was the last time for me playing basketball, it just opened up so many things with just all the support and everyone that’s really behind me right now. I really appreciate it.”
Of course, he added, he still hopes to play ball. He expects this obstacle to mature him and plans to return to practice this fall.
The Louisville Cardinals play Wichita State at the Georgia Dome on Saturday. Kevin, along with his mom and stepfather, will be right there, “cheering for the U of L,” Lisa said.