Former Sooner star, NBA player Tisdale dead at 44
Wayman Tisdale, a three-time All-American at Oklahoma who played 12 seasons in the NBA, died after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 44.
Tisdale died Friday morning at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, hospital spokeswoman Joy McGill said.
After three years at Oklahoma, Tisdale played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. The 6-foot-9 forward, with a soft left-handed touch on the court and a wide smile off it, averaged 15.3 points for his career. He was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.
After basketball, he became an award-winning jazz musician, with several albums making the top 10 on the Billboard charts.
"Wayman Tisdale is one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said in a statement. "He had an incredible gift of making the people who came in contact with him feel incredibly special."
Tisdale's death was announced on the Oklahoma Senate floor Friday by Senate Majority Leader Todd Lamb, who led the chamber in prayer.
"Whether you're a Cowboy or a Sooner, Oklahoma has lost a great ambassador," Lamb said. "He was a gifted musician, a gifted athlete and he just wore that well wherever he went."
Gov. Brad Henry attended Oklahoma at the same time Tisdale did and later appointed him to the state's Tourism Commission.
"Oklahoma has lost one of its most beloved sons," Henry said. "Wayman Tisdale was a hero both on and off the basketball court. ... Even in the most challenging of times, he had a smile for people, and he had the rare ability to make everyone around him smile. He was one of the most inspirational people I have ever known."
The famously upbeat Tisdale learned he had cancerous cyst below his right knee after breaking his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2007. He said then he was fortunate to have discovered the cancer early.
"Nothing can change me," Tisdale told The Associated Press last June. "You go through things. You don't change because things come in your life. You get better because things come in your life."