Senior voice on Cardinal Pride, Kevin Ware

By on April 10, 2013

By Aimee Jewell–

Kevin Ware fractured his tibia during the Elite Eight game against Duke University.

When you drive down I-65 South from Indiana into Kentucky and coast over the Ohio River, a dark blue sign hangs above your head reading: “Welcome to Kentucky, Unbridled Spirit.” What most people don’t know, if they’re not from Kentuckiana, however, is that as you cross over those state lines, you’re also entering “basketball country.” A lifestyle that encompasses living, breathing and dreaming of college basketball. You’re entering a land painted in UK blue and Cardinal red, where fans are willing to live and die for their team of choice. Terms like L1C4 (Louisville first, Cards forever) and BBN (Big Blue Nation) are just part of the language. Entering basketball country is like entering an alternative universe if you weren’t raised cheering for the Cards or the Cats. On March 31st, however, that all changed, if not for a moment. It wasn’t about the school rivalry directly, but something bigger than that. As Kevin Ware, #5 for U of L, jumped to block a three-pointer against Duke in the Elite Eight game, he fell, fracturing his tibia and making the record books for one of the most traumatizing injuries in the history of college basketball. But as Ware lay on the floor, writhing in pain, his teammates fell down too. And right before the country’s eyes, Ware became the fallen hero of the game, just like the ones depicted in every inspirational sports movie. From the floor, Ware emotionally encouraged his teammates to win the game and urged them not to lose focus. Fans were horrified as Ware, who was previously suspended early on in the semester and came back stronger than ever, left the stadium on a stretcher, with his athletic future unknown. And now it’s a game for the record books. U of L came back in the second half with a vengeance, winning the game and “winning for Ware.”  The Cardinal team we all know and love stepped up to the challenge and showed the nation what teamwork is all about. It’s hard to describe what exactly happened after Ware’s injury, since so many poetic descriptions of his heroism and the team’s united front have been written since Easter Sunday, the day of his accident. But the unity seen not only throughout the entire nation, but throughout the bluegrass as well was utterly overwhelming. It wasn’t about the Cats verses the Cards or the longstanding rivalry between the two enemies, but about becoming united. That night, it became about supporting a fellow player. The mileage between Lexington and Louisville didn’t matter anymore as (most) UK fans rallied behind the Cards, pulling for them to win on the road to the national championship. Ware received a lot of support that night. From his fellow teammates, U of L students, the Louisville community, professional players, well known rappers, and the nation at wide, they all came together and supported the men’s basketball team as they “won for Ware.” Having since then appeared on the David Letterman’s Late Night Show and receiving interview requests from Oprah and First Lady Michelle Obama, Ware has been cut off from the media, requiring rest in order to recover from his harrowing injury. It has been both through the unified front that the men’s basketball team showed to the nation that night and the support on the local and national level, that I have realized how lucky I am to be a Louisville Cardinal. I don’t know Kevin Ware, nor have I ever spoken to him, or even talked to the majority of his teammates. But it is because of their courageous, selfless actions last Sunday night that I am Cardinal proud. I am so proud to call this U of L team my team, from my university, representing my city. It’s a great time to be Cardinal proud, a great time to be at the university itself and a great time to be behind the Cardinals. Ware’s injury, although tremendously depressing, brought the boys of this team together and showed the country what we U of L fans have known all year: this team is special. Here’s to the special young man who rallied his teammates together, to the team that rose to the occasion and here’s to a wonderful year as a Louisville Cardinal. opinion@louisvillecardinal.com Photos by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal

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