ATLANTA — As Kevin Ware was celebrating Louisville's come-from-behind victory over Wichita State, the injured Louisville guard heard a familiar voice in the stands calling his name.
It belonged to his father, who lives in the Bronx and had not seen Ware in person for over a year.
Once Ware got permission from a police officer to have his father leap the barrier and join him on the floor, the two shared an emotional hug. Kevin Ware Sr. then told his son how proud he was for the bravery and maturity he has shown since breaking his lower right leg in gruesome fashion in the first half of last Sunday's Elite Eight victory over Duke.
"It was everything, honestly," Ware said. "I haven't seen my dad in a really long time. Him missing his flight earlier and still fighting to get here as quickly as he could, that meant everything to me."
[Slideshow: Fans, players pay tribute to Kevin Ware]
In the six days since he suffered his injury, Ware has received an outpouring of support from everyone from NBA stars, to everyday fans, to athletes who have suffered similar injuries. That continued during Saturday's games as numerous Louisville fans showed up at the Georgia Dome with homemade signs bearing get well wishes or with his last name spelled out on their chests.
Ware watched from the Louisville bench as his team fell behind by double digits in the second half before rallying behind reserve guards Luke Hancock and Tim Henderson to escape with a victory. TV cameras frequently panned to him agonizing with every miscue the Cardinals made and celebrating after every made basket or defensive stop.
"I was mad the entire game," Ware said. "They weren't getting out there defensively, and that is what got us to this point. It finally got to a point where they started playing defense a little bit. I even got on the court and told them this is going to make us win this game."
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