Shock, relief and love for Ware family

The ripple effects of Kevin Ware’s injury spread from Indianapolis to Louisville to Georgia to Virginia, a tidal wave of emotion and reaction to the horrific injury the Louisville guard suffered during the Cardinals’ Elite Eight win against Duke on Sunday.

As hard as it was to watch live at Lucas Oil Stadium, as much as it pained people back in Louisville who were rooting for the Cards, nowhere was the hurt greater than in Georgia, where Ware’s mother and stepfather live, and Virginia, home to his oldest sister.

Lisa and Wesley Junior, Kevin’s mother and stepfather, were in Conyers, Ga., watching the regional final game when they saw Ware go down.

“I thought maybe it was an ankle sprain,’’ Wesley Junior said. “Then we saw his teammates on the ground and we were like, ‘What happened? What happened?’ Then they showed the replay and it was, just, wow. Lisa lost it for a little bit.’’

In Virginia, Donna Diddi Smith was just getting ready to update her Facebook page with a good-natured update about how she could always find her brother on the basketball court because of his spindly legs when she heard Jim Nantz say, “Kevin Ware is injured.’’

When Smith looked up she saw Louisville basketball players doubled over and in tears, and then came the replay.

“I just screamed,’’ said Smith, who was watching the game with her family. She and Ware have the same father. “At first I was like, ‘Why are they crying?’ And then they showed the replays and my heart dropped and I started screaming.’’

There may not be a more awful feeling in the world than helplessness. That’s true of anyone. It’s doubly true for a mother.

Miles away from Indiana, Lisa Junior just about panicked when she heard how serious her son, a self-described mama’s boy, was injured.

“As a mom you’re so used to taking care of your children and being able to provide what they need. It’s like taking you away from who you are. I just felt useless.’’

Ware provided her some relief when he called from the hospital not 30 minutes after leaving the arena. But it wasn’t until Monday morning, when she and her husband walked into Ware’s Indianapolis hospital room, that she really exhaled.

“Relief, just relief,’’ she said.

Smith is looking forward to the same feeling. She spoke to her brother on Monday morning. Just as he did with his mother and teammates, Ware tried to make her feel better. He brushed off questions about how he was feeling, instead asking Smith about her 7-year-old son.

“He’s amazing,’’ she said.

Smith is hoping that Ware will be able to travel home to Atlanta for the Final Four this weekend.

Her brother is a big fan of her hot wings.

“I’ll gladly make them for him,’’ she said.