TODAY   |  April 04, 2013

Kevin Ware: ‘I’m coming back’ next season

The sophomore Louisville basketball player who suffered a devastating injury during an NCAA Tournament game earlier this week talks to NBC’s Craig Melvin about what he was thinking during the ordeal, a phone call from Michelle Obama, and his plans to return to the court next season.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the louisville cardinals arrived in atlanta last night for the final four. and injured player kevin ware made the trip with his team. craig melvin talked to him about that terrible injury that ended his season and what the future holds too. craig , good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you. kevin ware will be on the bench behind me this weekend when his louisville cardinals take on wichita state . and he played high school ball not far from here, it'll be a homecoming of sorts. here's the thing, though, there are a lot of folks, not just basketball folks following his story of progress that gruesome injury and the remarkable spirit he's displayed in the days after have captivated this country.

>> reporter: kevin ware now in atlanta to cheer on his teammates in the final four. he'd much rather be warming up for the big game , now it's a struggle just to sit down. millions watched on national television as kevin ware 's athletic season came to a devastating end.

>> have you seen that?

>> haven't. don't want to. i'm going to stay as far away from the reel as possible.

>> no wonder. his right leg severely broken, ware at first thought it was only an ankle sprain.

>> coach's eyes gave it away. looking at him and looking at my leg, he was like, oh, automatic shock.

>> reporter: teammates and fans were crying, but not ware, instead, he inspired.

>> i can't be crying and sitting here. we've got a whole other half to go. they put me on the stretcher and i'm still saying, i'm grabbing their shirts in their faces, we've got to win the game. let's get it done. i was so happy when i woke up the next morning and saw that final four trophy.

>> the only thing that calmed me down was the phone call telling me to calm down i'm okay.

>> the self-proclaimed shy guy says the support has been overwhelming. tweets from superstars, celebrities, even a phone call from the first lady.

>> you're the coolest guy that i know in louisville.

>> what did the first lady say?

>> i was so drugged, i don't remember.

>> today kevin ware sees his future clearly.

>> you're coming back?

>> i'm coming back. i'll be back to start next season.

>> reporter: he'll be cheering from the bench with the heart of a champion .

>> here's the thing. kevin ware said he knew this thing was bigger than him when he started to hear from regular people around the country who had suffered some sort of traumatic injury , some of whom were in rehab and they would tell him he was inspiring them. he would in turn tell them that they were inspiring him. really cool guy.

>> indeed, craig melvin, great to hear from him and seeing him doing so well. thank you.