(Reuters) - Louisville guard Kevin Ware broke his leg in a horrific injury that left college basketball in a state of shock during the March Madness regional finals on Sunday.
Ware landed awkwardly while trying to block a shot in the first half and his right leg bent at a gruesome angle, leaving the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in a stunned silence.
"When he landed, I heard it," Louisville guard Russ Smith told reporters. "And then I (saw the bone) come out and I immediately just, just like, fell.
"It was really hard to pull myself together because I didn't ever think in a million years I would see something like that."
After a nine-minute delay, Ware was carted off the court on a stretcher leaving Louisville players and coach Rick Pitino in tears.
The Louisville team was able to recover for an 85-63 victory over Duke that advanced them to the Final Four but their thoughts remained with their team mate.
Close friend and team mate Chane Behanan changed into Ware's number five jersey after speaking with him in the locker room.
Ware was taken to a nearby hospital and underwent surgery but there was no timetable placed on his recovery.
"I don't think any of us, with what we had to witness, could overcome it if it wasn't for Kevin Ware 12 times saying to the guys, 'I'll be fine. Win the game'," Pitino said.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney)