Remembering Wayman Tisdale: A Man of Many Talents

Wayman TisdaleWayman Tisdale passed away at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 15th, 2009, after a two-year battle with bone cancer. He was 44.

Tisdale will be remembered by many as an award-winning bassist. He will also be remembered by many as a nationally acclaimed college basketball and NBA player who is the current leader in points for the Oklahoma Sooners. In April of 2009, Tisdale was inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. As a musician, he released eight studio albums, starting with Power Forward in 1995 and ending with Rebound, released in 2008. He established himself as an accomplished bassist after being presented with the Legacy Tribute Award by the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

Born in 1964, Tisdale began to establish himself as a promising basketball player in high school. He attended Booker T. Washington High School in his hometown of Tulsa. After high school, he attended the University of Oklahoma, where he played for the basketball team, the Sooners. He obtained All-American honors for each of the three seasons he played for the Sooners. With 2,661 points, 1,048 rebounds, and 61 points in a single game, Tisdale currently holds the records for each of those categories.

After his incredibly successful basketball career in college, Tisdale became the 2nd overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft right behind Patrick Ewing. His career in the NBA lasted 12 seasons. He played for the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and the Phoenix Suns. Playing the position of forward, he reached a total of 12,878 points, 5,117 rebounds, and 1,077 assists. In addition to performing so well in the NBA, he won a gold medal with the Men’s Olympic Basketball team in 1984. There, he shared the courts with the likes of Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan and was coached by legendary Bob Knight.

Tisdale began his second, and once again very successful, career before retiring from professional basketball in 1997: He released his first album, Power Forward, in 1995. That album reached No. 4 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. His other albums, In the Zone, Decisions, Face To Face, and Way Up, reached the Top Ten, with Face To Face and Way Up taking No. 1.

In addition to being an acclaimed bassist and basketball player, he was always thought of as a gentle, kind-hearted person.

“He was a beautiful soul, with a gentle spirit and a smile that lit up the whole room,” Tony Franklin, SWR Amplifiers Artist Relations Manager, said. “He also knew how to get things moving, and he loved to connect people. To rise to the top in any profession is an incredible accomplishment, but to do that in another field is simply sensational—and he did just that in the soft jazz world.”

“Driven and determined,” Franklin observed. “Even up to a few weeks before his passing, when I last had contact with him, he was asserting ‘I am healed,’ and showing no signs of surrendering to his condition. He was a gentle warrior who uplifted all with his infectious spirit. He is loved and will be greatly missed by many.”

He will live on in his family, friends, and the legacy he made for himself in both basketball and the world of Jazz music.

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