Dwight Howard reaches out to Kevin Ware

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There are very few people who can relate to the pain Louisville's Kevin Ware felt when he suffered a compound fracture in his leg last Sunday in the Cardinals regional final victory over Duke.

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is one of them.

"I broke my leg when I was 15," Howard said Friday morning. "It wasn't as severe as his, but I just know how I felt to sit out and miss important things, especially while you're young."

So Monday morning Howard picked up the phone and called Ware.

"I was just trying to make sure he was OK," said Howard, who still has two screws in his leg from the injury. "When I broke my leg, everybody thought that my career was done when I was 15. Look where it got me. I'm pretty sure it's going to push him to work even harder."

Howard said Steve Nash and Pau Gasol also got on the phone with Ware to offer encouragement.

Howard got his number through a mutual friend. The two were both raised in Atlanta and members of the same AAU basketball team, the Atlanta Celtics.

"Us Celtics stick together. That's the Atlanta Celtics," he said, catching the potential conflict with the Lakers hated rival. "We wear green, but that's for that team, the Atlanta Celtics."