LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There was a moment, with Kevin Ware lying on the sideline at Lucas Oil stadium, his right leg shattered and hanging at an unnatural angle, that the University of Louisville basketball player made a choice.
He found in the midst of profound pain and crushing disappointment a minute of peace that changed his life.
If you don't like hearing about quaint notions like the power of prayer, it's probably a good time to click onto the next story.
Because Kevin Ware's life may be forever changed because of a prayer. It was offered by his teammate, Luke Hancock. Let Ware tell the story, picking up from when he was lying on that sideline:
"At the time coach just kind of gave my leg a look, and I'm just thinking my ankle's hurt, and I look down and my bone is six inches out of my leg and I just go into automatic shock," Ware said. "I really, really want to thank Luke (Hancock), because Luke jumped right on the scene like the captain that he is and just said a prayer for me."
After the game Sunday, I found Hancock in the locker room. He told me, "It wasn't easy, but I knew that's what I'd want. If I were hurt, I'd want somebody there for me."
The photos show Hancock on his knees, at Ware's side. What they don't show is what he was praying. It was a simple prayer. He asked the Lord to watch over them. He prayed that Ware would be okay. He asked for understanding and faith that all things happen for some good purpose.
Sometimes with a prayer, the words don't even matter. While Hancock was praying, some other words were going through Ware's mind.
"When he was saying that prayer what was going through my head was I'm either going to cry and my team is going to be devastated and we probably won't win this game or I'm going to just try to say some words to get us through," Ware said.
That's when Ware began to repeat the phrase, "I'm fine. Just win the game."
Maybe, if Ware doesn't have that moment, if that prayer isn't said, U of L wins the game anyway. Or maybe it doesn't.
But what definitely wouldn't have happened is what has happened next -- a nation being moved to embrace Ware, because of his selfless act in the most distressing of circumstances.
That prayer didn't miraculously heal Kevin Ware. But it changed his life nonetheless. In that moment with a calm and resolved teammate's voice in his ear, Ware found a kind of strength that has inspired literally millions of people. Rachel Brand is a school teacher in Louisville. Today, a friend texted her to tell her that her son's elementary school class all wrote "5" on their hands for Ware. The school is in Columbus, Ohio.
Rich and poor, famous and not-so-famous have reached out to him. They're wearing shirts with his number on them.
This isn't a sermon; it's just a story. But in that painful moment Ware had a choice to make, and he chose to move past his pain to say something to help his team.
"And they beat Duke by 22 so I guess my words must have got through good enough," Ware said.
Maybe if a guy named Luke hadn't dropped to his knees and started to pray, all of that would've happened anyway.
Or maybe, that prayer helped change a bad break into a big victory, on more than just the basketball court.