Kevin Ware's advice for Paul George: Be patient, positive
AUG 04, 2014 11:00a ET
On Friday night, Kevin Ware was sitting in his dorm room at Georgia State University in Atlanta, watching the Team USA scrimmage live on television with his roommate. Then the worst moment of Ware’s life suddenly came rushing back.
Ware watched as NBA All-Star Paul George gruesomely broke his leg in the scrimmage, a virtually identical injury to the one that made Ware one of the most recognizable college basketball players in the nation a year and a half ago.
“I really couldn’t believe it happened when I saw it,” Ware told FOXSports.com on Monday. “All the thoughts and memories came back to my head. As soon as it happened, it was like déjà vu.”
In the next 10 minutes, Ware received 200 text messages. He tweeted to his 126,000 Twitter followers: “Minor setback for a major comeback PG.” The note of encouragement to George was retweeted more than 30,000 times.
And online he saw the disturbing image of George’s snapped leg. All night, Ware couldn’t get that image out of his head. It looked virtually the same as when Ware snapped his own leg in a 2013 Elite Eight game against Duke. The same coach who was on the sideline at the Duke game, Mike Krzyzewski, was on the sideline at the Team USA scrimmage. It was eerie.
Ware didn’t get one minute of sleep on Friday night.
“I was just laying here, trying to go to sleep, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” Ware said. “I saw the picture like I saw the picture of mine. I just couldn’t get that image out of my head.
“I wish I didn’t see it live, exactly how it happened. It was the same. He went up to block a shot like I went up to block a shot.” Ware paused and took a breath. “Stuff like this, it isn’t normal.”
The day after George’s injury, Ware’s Georgia State team was scheduled to have a scrimmage, preparing for a preseason basketball trip to Costa Rica later this week. Ware didn’t want to go. He hadn’t slept, and he couldn’t stop thinking about George. It was almost as if he were reliving it all. He called his mom, and she talked him into heading to the basketball court.
George is one of the brightest young stars in the NBA. When Ware played for the Louisville team that went on to win the national championship with him cheering courtside in crutches, he had a significant bench role for the best college team in the country. Ware returned to Louisville at the beginning of last season but reinjured his leg in December. Living in Louisville became hard. It was as if everyone identified him as Kevin Ware, the guy who broke his leg, not Kevin Ware, the guy who plays basketball. So he transferred back home to Georgia State, a Sun Belt Conference school with an up-and-coming basketball program.
What’s his advice for George?
“This is definitely the hardest he’ll have to work in his life,” Ware said. “An injury like this, it’s your quad and your knee, and you gotta get that strong to get that back to normal. It’s going to take a lot of time. Just stay positive.
“If your trainer tells you you can’t do something, you gotta listen. I think I rushed myself to come back because I was so ready to play basketball again. I was just determined as much as I could to get back on the court. Looking back now, I definitely wish I would have taken some more time.”