As Kevin Ware takes his seat courtside for the Final Four on Saturday, Louisville's injured hero will receive one more reminder of just how much he means to his team.
Ware will see his No. 5 emblazoned on the practice jerseys of every member of the Cardinals squad with the program swiftly producing a series of "All In For 5" tops in a moving tribute to their stricken star.
broke his tibia during the first half of the team's 85-63 victory over Duke on Sunday, meaning he will miss what would have been the biggest moment of his career – the Final Four in Atlanta.The sophomore
Yet his bravery – even whispering words of encouragement to his colleagues as he was stretchered from the floor – endeared him to much of the nation.
In the Cardinals' camp, the outpouring of affection from the Louisville group towards Ware has been constant ever since they booked their showdown with Wichita State, with coach Rick Pitino spending hours with him in the hospital and constant well-wishing messages from players blowing up Ware's cell phone.
The practice-shirt tribute is perhaps no surprise then, but is still a classy and inspirational way to recognize Ware's part of taking the team to within two wins of a national title.
T-shirts with a similar Ware-inspired design created by team sponsor Adidas can also be purchased from the Louisville athletic department website."Ri5e to the occasion," reads the T-shirts, which can be purchased for $24.99.
Ware's story has captivated the nation, and even members of the Wichita State team have been moved by his tale.
"I am sure he will be there and I will go over and shake his hand and wish him a quick recovery," said Shockers guard Fred VanVleet. "Obviously we are going to do everything we can to win and take this opportunity, but you can still take a second to show respect to someone who gave everything for his team."
It was initially feared Ware's injury would prevent him from traveling to Atlanta to support the team, however he was cleared by medical staff on Wednesday and will be present on the team flight, the bus to the stadium and in the locker room.
He will never, however, witness footage of the incident that ended his season and endangered at promising career.
"That's just one of those things I'll never want to see," Ware said. "Like when you're a kid and you've got that scary movie that you never want to see. That's just going to be like one of those nightmares I never want to face.
"It happened, and it's in the past, but I've seen the picture. But honestly I don't want to see it. There wouldn't be anything in me – you couldn't pay me all the money in the world to see it."
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