What happened to Kevin Ware? The story of his broken leg, recovery & career timeline 10 years later

It’s been 10 years since the NCAA Tournament was rocked by a gruesome injury to Louisville guard Kevin Ware.

A role player on a team with championship hopes, Ware became the top story in sports when he went down in the Cardinals’ Elite Eight matchup with Duke.

Louisville survived and advanced to its second consecutive Final Four, but the injury was so severe that it was difficult for any of Ware’s teammates to be in the mood for celebration.

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Here are the details of what happened to Ware and how he was able to find his way back to the court.

What happened to Kevin Ware?

Aside from the gruesome images that circulated after Ware’s injury, the most jarring part was how routine the whole sequence was. 

Ware jumped up high to contest a Duke 3-point shot and simply landed the wrong way, with all of his weight falling on his right leg at the wrong angle. Running toward a player to contest a 3-point try is an ordinary motion, but the ordinary became anything but on that day.

Within seconds of Ware hitting the ground in front of Louisville’s bench, his teammates reacted in horror. Players sitting on the bench immediately looked away and held each other. Players on the court were distraught.

Replay showed Ware’s leg snapping as he came down, and some photographs surfaced that showed the tibia bone exposed. 

Ware was stretchered off, and it was later reported that he told teammates, “I’m fine, just win the game.”

What was Kevin Ware injury?

Ware was diagnosed with a compound fracture of the tibia. Not only did he break his leg, but the bone broke through the skin, which was something most viewers could tell just by watching a replay of the injury. 

The Louisville guard underwent surgery to repair the fracture in Indianapolis. He instantly became the center of the sports world, with stars from around college basketball and the NBA wishing him well. 

Fortunately, the recovery from the injury wasn’t all that complicated. Rods were inserted during surgery to set the bone back in place, and it was just a matter of giving the bone time to heal once surgery was done. 

That’s why Ware was able to return to basketball in a matter of months.

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Here’s a timeline of Ware’s path back to the court.

Kevin Ware injury recovery timeline

March 31, 2013: Ware undergoes two-hour surgery

Before anything else, doctors had to repair the fracture. A two-hour surgery set the bone back in place and inserted rods to keep it there. The procedure allowed Ware to heal up within just a few months.

As gruesome as the injury was, common knee ligament injuries such as a torn ACL tend to take longer to recover from. 

April 8, 2013: Ware joins Louisville for title celebration

Ware was able to travel to Atlanta to join Louisville for the national championship game against Michigan.

While the injury might have taken his teammates’ focus away from basketball at first, his presence had the opposite effect in Atlanta. Louisville looked like a team on a mission to win a title for Ware, surviving a scare from Wichita State in the Final Four before capturing a championship with a win over the Wolverines.

Though he was on crutches, Ware got the full experience. Someone even lowered the hoop during Louisville’s celebration so he could cut the net.

To go from the saddest story in sports to lifting a championship trophy in eight days was an unforgettable turn of events.

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Nov. 6, 2013: Ware returns to basketball in exhibition game

Ware’s return to competitive basketball came during a Louisville exhibition game against Pikeville. Rick Pitino brought Ware off the bench in the second half, and the reserve guard totaled six points and four rebounds in limited action. 

Nov. 15, 2013: Ware makes regular-season return vs. Cornell

Less than eight months after the injury, Ware made his regular-season return in a Cardinals win over Cornell. He played 13 minutes, posting five points, two rebounds, and one assist.

Ware would play 13 minutes against Hartford four days later before seeing his role diminish. 

Jan. 9, 2014: Ware decides to redshirt 2013-14 season

After playing sparingly in seven more games, Ware announced he would redshirt the season to maintain two years of eligibility. Louisville earned a No. 4 seed and lost to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.

April 12, 2014: Ware transfers to Georgia State

Ware announced in April 2014 that he would transfer to Georgia State, which was closer to his family’s home in suburban Atlanta. He was granted a waiver by the NCAA to become immediately eligible and would appear in 65 games over two seasons with the Panthers.

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March 2015: Ware named Sun Belt Conference Tournament MVP

Ware joined Georgia State at the right time, as the Panthers not only reached the NCAA Tournament but shook up brackets with a first-round upset of No. 3 Baylor. 

Before the tournament appearance, Georgia State had to win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Ware erupted for 18 points and five rebounds in the title game, propelling the Panthers to a win over Georgia Southern and clinching an emotional return to the big dance.

Where is Kevin Ware now?

After graduating from Georgia State in 2016, Ware spent a few seasons playing professionally in four different continents. He initially signed in Finland before joining a Czech team in late 2016. 

Ware also has spent time playing professionally in Greece, England, Canada, Iraq, Serbia, and Argentina. He was most recently with Club Deportivo Hispano Americano in Argentina. 

According to his Instagram, Ware has a son. 

Did Kevin Ware play in the NBA?

Ware went undrafted in 2016 and did not play in the NBA or the G-League. He was able to play professionally in a few different leagues across the world from 2016-2022 after making his presence felt at Georgia State.

Kevin Ware college stats

Season School Games PPG RPG APG FG%
2011-12 Louisville 20 1.0 0.7 0.5 29.6%
2012-13 Louisville 37 4.5 1.8 0.8 44.7%
2013-14 Louisville 9 1.7 0.6 0.3 37.5%
2014-15 Georgia State 35 7.6 3.1 2.4 43.8%
2015-16 Georgia State 30 11.6 3.7 3.1 42.1%
Average   131 6.2 2.3 1.7 42.6%

Ware averaged 6.2 points per game on 42.6% shooting across five collegiate seasons. He saw his role increase at Georgia State, becoming a full-time starter in 2015-16 and averaging double-digit points per game for the first time. 


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