Wayman’s Final Note

Always sad to say goodbye to the good ones – and worse when it comes unexpectedly at such a young age.

Wayman Tisdale passed away this morning in his hometown of Tulsa, OK at the age of 44. 

Wayman Tisdale

Wayman Tisdale

Most casual observers of his 12-year NBA career or his well-regarded second career as a bassist and contemporary jazz performer (with eight studio albums) were aware of his battle with cancer and eventual amputation of his lower leg, but the hope was that last summer’s procedure would provide smooth sailing in the years ahead for the man universally admired and respected by his peers and fans alike.

It is ironic to note that the consensus number one pick in this summer’s upcoming NBA draft, Blake Griffin, wore Tisdale’s #23 uniform during his time at Oklahoma – a jersey number that had been retired and was granted to Griffin with Tisdale’s permission.  Ironic because Tisdale’s passing is a reminder that, as a college player, Tisdale “was Blake Griffin way before Blake Griffin”.

Wayman Tisdale during his Oklahoma Sooners playing days

Tisdale during his playing days at the University of Oklahoma

As you would expect, The Oklahoman is all over this story with heartfelt tributes and reader reaction to Tisdale’s untimely passing.

Mark Kreidler of ESPN.com, a Tulsa native, offers up an appreciation focused on Tisdale’s humility in light of his “rock star” status during his college days, including a spot on the gold-medal winning 1984 US Olympic basketball team.

With all of his honors and accolades, it seems likely that Tisdale’s most important lasting legacy might end up being the creation of the Wayman Tisdale Foundation, “committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals with cancer as well as amputees.” 

We know now that Tisdale’s cancer was much too aggressive for him to overcome, but it did not prevent him from being an inspiration to other cancer victims until the end.  It’s just a crying shame that he could not have lived to continue his calling.

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

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~ by acm213 on May 15, 2009.

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