BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This year's March Madness is always full of great upsets, buzzer beaters, and dunks. However, one of the most talked about moments this season was a frightening scene on the court--Louisville's Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome lower right leg injury against Duke.
Ware said the overwhelming support is helping him maintain his spirits and strengthen his confidence of a full recovery. Here on the Coast, athletes are facing similar challenges of trying to overcome devastating injuries so they can return to the sports they love.
A few years ago Maurice Reese was catching passing passes for Harrison Central High School, but his love for sports started much earlier.
"It's just something I've been doing since I was four-years-old," said Reese. "I fell in love with it."
Reese went on to play wide receiver for Millsaps. Then one day on the practice field, something went wrong.
"I was just running a route. We were doing one-on-ones wide receivers and defensive backs. I made a cut and it just buckled and it tore," Reese said.
With a torn left ACL, Reese would have to undergo surgery, then start rehab. That would mean watching the 2012 football season from the bench.
Reese said, "I didn't realize how much I love the game of football until after I got hurt and watching everybody else play and not being able to play really hurt me."
Physical therapist Teresa Smith has worked with many athletes. She said often times it's more than the physical injury they have to overcome.
"It can become a psychological issue too. You become afraid of that," Smith said. "I especially see that with my ACLs. They're afraid to put weight on that leg. You almost have to coax them back to trust it again."
Smith said, "Obviously with any injury it's going to depend on the extent of the injury, the healing, the surgeon. But motivation within the athlete is a really big part of that. If they're motivated and they think they can do it, if they want to do it. Then typically we can get them there."
She tried to keep their spirits up by making the exercises as fun for the athletes as possible.
"What I do is, I kind of push them. I keep them upbeat. I keep them laughing," Smith said. "We do a lot here. We do a lot of hard work, but we try to make it as fun as possible and they've got to keep that goal in mind to come back."
Even more of a blow for Reese was that this is the second time he's been injured. He tore the ACL in his other leg in 2011.
"You want to be well overnight, but eventually you realize that you're not going to be. You definitely can bounce back. It's not the end of the world," Reese said. "At first I didn't think I would come back. I said to myself, if I hurt it again, I would play again. If it's something you love it's easy to come back. If you work hard, you'll be fine."
The college junior said he isn't giving up and plans to be on the field come Fall.