Janee Thompson remembers every brutal moment.
"Pretty vividly," she said quietly.
It's been exactly a month since the Kentucky guard felt her legs give way and then the unimaginable, blinding pain.
Thompson remembers falling to the ground and clutching her left leg, which had been pinned under a South Carolina player diving for a loose ball.
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Thompson couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"My leg is not going the right direction," she thought. "It's not supposed to be twisted like this, twisted like crazy. I was screaming in pain. That's when it really hit me that, 'Oh my God, my leg is broken.'"
In front of 17,156 fans and a live television audience — which included members of her family watching together in Chicago — Thompson's season ended.
The UK point guard suffered a dislocated left ankle and a snapped fibula. She had surgery less than 24 hours later back in Lexington.
Thompson remembers lying on the floor of a then-silent arena and seeing concerned faces all around her. She remembers the intense pain as the medical staff tried to stabilize her leg enough to move her.
"A part of me wishes I didn't," she said of remembering it all.
"But part of me realizes that it can humble you and make you more grateful about the situation you're in."
"Just to play basketball in general," the 5-foot-7 junior continued. "You want to go out there and play hard because you never know when something like that is going to happen. The rest of my season is gone and just sitting out for these few weeks has made me love basketball that much more."
Thompson was in the middle of a breakout season that included two Southeastern Conference Player of the Week awards. She had scored a season-high 19 points and made a key three-pointer in UK's come-from-behind win at Louisville.
It all was gone in an instant.
What happened next triggered more gratitude.
"The support has just poured in out of nowhere," she said. "That was one of the toughest periods of my life so far because basketball means so much to me and playing with those girls means a lot to me.
"Having that gone in an instant was hard, but people I didn't know, people came from everywhere, text messages, calls, letters, fruit baskets, anything you can name. It was just amazing."
The UK softball team brought Thompson a care package with personalized notes from each player. SEC television analyst Nell Fortner sent Thompson a letter that she's held on to.
People the guard has never met from states that she's never played in have sent her letters.
"I just didn't know the impact that it had on people and how many people were actually watching and actually saw it," she said. "I'm sorry they had to see that."
Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell has gotten letters, too.
"It's been a very uplifting experience," he said of what could've been one of his team's lowest. "It's been a pretty remarkable experience and I've learned a lot through it."
The Cats' coach said he's also learned a lot about his team.
Lots of players talk about a family environment, but he's seen Thompson's teammates truly become one as they care for their point guard.
"I am constantly asking her what she needs and she says, 'Coach, my teammates are amazing,'" Mitchell said. "They have really helped her out and helped her through it."
'Why me?' moment over
After Thompson's surgery, there was an impromptu slumber party at the apartment shared by the point guard and seniors Jelleah Sidney, Azia Bishop and Bria Goss.
"We wanted to talk and spend time with her and we wound up sleeping over," senior guard Jennifer O'Neill said. "We do a lot more stuff like that now, just spending time having discussions besides basketball."
That support was key early on when Thompson had her share of dark moments.
"At the beginning it was hard and she struggled to keep her spirits up, but she had a lot of support from all over, from people back home, different schools and stuff like that," O'Neill said.
The days after the surgery were especially frustrating for an energetic player who was suddenly immobile.
"It was painful and stressful," she said of the days following the injury. "I can't sit here and say I didn't have a 'why me?' moment. But I'm pretty much over that."
Thompson has missed less than a handful of practices since the injury. She can't travel with the team yet, but hopes to be cleared to do so by the time the NCAA Tournament starts.
When UK is on the road, the point guard texts at halftime and offers her suggestions for in-game adjustments.
Her head coach tries to meet with his junior point guard daily either before or after practice to pick her brain about what she sees.
That part has made it easier and more difficult at the same time.
"It set in that I can't just put on some shoes and go out there with them," she admitted. "It's kind of hard for me to sit back and watch, really, because this is what I love to do."
Thompson's stitches have come out and she's able to do some rehabilitation, which is mostly trying to move her foot back and forth.
The intense pain has subsided finally.
Doctors expect that Thompson will recover completely and be back in time for summer workouts with her teammates, Mitchell said.
The guard is on crutches and has a scooter to make getting around easier. She cracks jokes pretty regularly, which has been a good indicator that she's back to "the old Janee," O'Neill said.
Thompson will know she's back to her old self when she has a ball in her hands and can start her senior season at Kentucky.
"It all gets better and better every day, mainly because I know I'm one step closer to getting back on the court."