He was in a hospital room instead of the locker room and he wore a hospital gown instead of his basketball jersey, Louisville's Kevin Ware still got the chance to hoist the Midwest Regional championship trophy.
Louisville coaches dropped by Ware's room at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after he underwent two hours of surgery to repair the compound fracture in his lower right leg he suffered in an Elite Eight win over Duke earlier Sunday. In addition to visiting with Ware and checking on his condition, the Louisville coaches also allowed him to hold the trophy the team had won for qualifying for its second straight Final Four.
The heartwarming photo above circulated Twitter on Sunday night after it was posted by user @WhatsUpWitB. Hopefully the knowledge that his team won brought some comfort to Ware just hours after he'd undergone surgery to have the bone reset, the wound closed and a rod inserted in his tibia.
It was Ware's selfless message to his teammates before he left the court on a stretcher that inspired the Louisville players to pull away from Duke in the second half. Ware demanded that the Cardinals stop worrying about him and make sure that his injury isn't what derails the team's championship aspirations.
"Kevin Ware really was the reason why we pulled this game out," Louisville guard Peyton Siva told reporters. "Like Coach said, he told us countless times, 'Just go win this game for me. Just go win this game. Don't worry about me. I'm fine. Just go win this game.' I don't know how he did it. I don't know how he got the strength to do it, but he told us to go out there and win."