2294f1d3d2b03b74d811b8216e5ee320Kevin Ware’s leg may be broken but his spirit is intact.

Speaking to the Daily News by phone from a hospital bed in Indianapolis, the Louisville sophomore made it sound like the gruesome leg injury he suffered Sunday was a mere bump on the road.

“This is a minor setback for a major comeback,” he said. “I have to have the right approach to it. They told me things are gonna be good for me. This is not a lifetime injury where I can never play basketball again.”

It certainly didn’t look that way during his team’s Elite 8 game against Duke. Ware went up to block a shot, and came down awkwardly, suffering a compound fracture of his right leg.

As Ware writhed in pain, his horrified teammates turned away and some vomited. Coach Rick Pitino had tears in his eyes.


Louisville trainers rush to Ware’s aide to great his grisly injury.

But the snap heard round the world was worse for Ware’s mother, Lisa Junior, who was at her sister’s house in Georgia, watching the game with family and friends.

About 30 to 45 minutes after the injury, Ware finally got a chance to call his mom.

“He said, ‘Mom, calm down. I’m okay,’” she said. “He just kept saying, ‘Mom, calm down.’ ”

Ware underwent surgery Sunday night to reset the bone and insert a rod into his leg. By Monday, when his mom showed up to comfort him, he was walking on crutches.


Louisville coach Rick Pitino and assistant Richard Pitino visit Kevin Ware in the hospital.

“I didn’t want to watch the video but I saw pictures of my leg after it happened, and I would never think that I would be back up walking today,” said Ware, who grew up in the Bronx before moving to the Atlanta area prior to high school.

“At this point I’m gonna take my time, but when it comes time to get back on the court, I’m gonna put my all into it,” he said. “But getting to where I want to be and where I need to be is gonna take some time.”

Ware does believe he will play again, despite the severity of his injury. But he said he’s a bit uncomfortable with the outpouring of support he’s received from people around the country, including positive messages from LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Lil Wayne, who tweeted, “May God be with Kevin Ware and his family. Ya in my prayers bro.”

“That’s big for me because these are people that I look up to,” Ware said. “Seeing stuff like that, it’s big just knowing that you have people all over the world in your corner. It’s big for you and you can’t be negative in that situation.”


Louisville players Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan react in shocked disbelief at Ware’s injury.

Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, whose career was ended in 1986 when his leg was broken on a hit by Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, texted his support.

Junior said she was relieved to know her son’s situation could have a positive ending.

“He just wants to get on his feet and do what he loves to do,” Junior said.

As for his prediction that the Cardinals would be playing in Atlanta this weekend, Ware was right. After the injury, Louisville rallied around its fallen teammate to beat Duke and set up a Saturday semifinal game against No. 9 Wichita State. A win would put Louisville in Monday’s title game.

Ware is planning to travel to Louisville with his mother on Tuesday, then they will head back to Atlanta Wednesday.

Louisville sports medicine director Fred Hina said Ware’s recovery time would be based on the nature of the hardware that was inserted into his leg.

“Because it was a weight-bearing bone and it was such a difficult injury, it will take awhile,” Hina said. “But he will play again.”

It will be up to the team trainer to decide where Ware sits for the games, but whether he’s on the bench or not is secondary to Ware, who urged his teammates to win Sunday’s game as he was being wheeled off the court on a gurney.

“They really went out there and gave it their all, and at this point I feel like there’s no losing,” Ware said. “Being able to go back to the team and talking to guys, everyone’s excited. We just have to get the job done. It’s time for us to really start rolling as a team.”

Before hanging up, Ware made clear what he wants most after going through so much over the past day — two more wins by his team.

“I feel like if we get the job done it’ll be a real emotional day to win that national championship,” he said.