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Original Issue

Inside My Return

I still haven't seen a replay of the injury, and I don't want to. But I remember somebody messed up his assignment, and I was the next guy to rotate. I jumped as high as I could. When I came down, everybody was freaking out. I looked at Coach P [Rick Pitino], and he looked at my leg. That's when I glanced down and put my head back.

Before they took me to the emergency room, I told my teammates, "Win the game." When I got there, I called my mom, Lisa Junior, and told her that I was O.K. After I woke up from the surgery, I remember looking to my left and glimpsing the [Midwest Regional] trophy. I smiled and dozed off again.

I left the hospital on a Tuesday and was on a bike the next day. I went from the bike to the Alter G, an antigravity rehab treadmill. The more I showed that my leg was stronger, the more they let me do.

I got a lot of support. I spoke to Kobe and Kevin Durant. I ran into Aaron Rodgers, and he gave me some advice. But the person I could most relate to was Joe Theismann. He was one of the first people to reach out. We would text regularly, and he told me, "Take it slow, but you've got a good chance to come back and do something really good."

As soon as I was back on my feet, I started shooting free throws and set shots. Those turned into one-dribble pull-ups, then one-step moves to the basket, then—about four months after the injury—full workouts and individual drills. I've been dunking since September, although it has been only about two weeks since I've been able to land normally on my leg. It gets better every day.

Last week's exhibition against Pikeville was a surprise. I was sitting on the bench, and suddenly Coach said, "All right, Kevin, let's go." It had been 200-something days since I'd been able to really play, and getting back out there was one of the best moments of my life.

The crowd was insane, cheering every time I touched the ball. That gave me a boost. I got a defensive rebound, and then I took my first shot. When it went in, my first thought was: Get back in the press! But it lifted a burden. I had been tense, and then I relaxed.

Thankfully, the team didn't make a big deal about it. But everyone was texting me: Welcome back! My mom sent me this long, emotional text, which I was expecting. She's always been there for me, and I live to make her proud.

When I got hurt, people told me, You can do other things. That was never my agenda. Basketball has always been my dream, and I wanted to get back on the court. Now I know that it always gets better, as long as you work for it. I'm back. It's time to play again. I'm not hurt anymore. ±


"I plead guilty to throwing the football, Your Honor."

Jesse Unger Chargers fan who was ticketed for tossing a ball in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium, after the judge agreed to suspend his $280 fine if Unger entered a guilty plea.



Clawing Back After a grisly break last spring, Ware scored six points in 10 minutes during an exhibition against Pikeville.