Former OU Great Wayman Tisdale Dies at 44

Friday, May 15th 2009, 12:24 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Wayman Tisdale was an incredible athlete, talented musician, but most of all a phenomenal person.

Everyone who knew him says with his death at the young age of 44, we've lost a treasure.

Tisdale was one of the best athletes to come out of Oklahoma. After Booker T. Washington High School, Tisdale dazzled fans while at OU.

He was a three-time All-American, one of only 10 college players ever to do it.

Tisdale went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA, for the Pacers, Kings and Suns, but remained down to earth and humble.

"If you saw him on TNT or if you saw him walking the halls of Booker T. Washington High School, it was that same person regardless," said Micheal Johnson, BTW principal.

After his basketball playing days were over, Tisdale turned to another passion -- music. He was a top jazz musician who recorded eight albums with several making the top 10 on the billboard charts.

Even with all the fame and fortune, Tisdale never forgot his roots.

"He definitely could afford to live anywhere he wanted to in this world, but he chose to come home and we're glad he did," said Antwain Jimmerson, BTW athletic director.

Tisdale died Friday morning at St. John Medical Center after a two-year fight with cancer. Fans and friends are saddened.

"If you asked him what he would want to be known as I'm sure he'd say a husband, a father, a brother," Jimmerson said. "He's just one of those down-to-earth people that we're definitely going to miss."

Tisdale learned he had a cancerous cyst below his right knee in February 2007. His leg was later amputated, and Tisdale got a prosthetic leg.

It was hoped because the cancer was found early, he could recover.

"The whole time he's been going through his adversity he's always upbeat and positive and a very good role model, so I think everyone is very proud of him," said David Edwards, a Tisdale fan.

And through the amputation, the treatment, through it all, he kept his trademark smile.

"He was well grounded in Christ and just an unbelievable person," Jimmerson said. "Whenever you'd see him, he had a great big smile on his face."

And though he's gone, no one will ever forget his talent, that smile, and how he brought a smile to so many others.

"That smile tells the character of that man," Johnson said.

Tisdale was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

Last month, he was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

 Tisdale is survived by his wife, Regina, and four children.