Share your memories of Wayman Tisdale
By Staff Reports
Friday, May 15, 2009
5/15/09 at 5:02 PM
Gov. Brad Henry
Oklahoma City -- Gov. Brad Henry today made the following comments about
Wayman Tisdale, the OU basketball great and renowned jazz musician who
died this morning of cancer. He was 44 years old.
"Oklahoma has lost one of its most beloved sons. Wayman Tisdale was a hero
both on and off the basketball court. Wayman played at OU during the time
I attended school there, and I had the privilege of seeing a true champion
in action. He was an incredible athlete and competitor.
"Off the court, he was an equally gifted musician and a tremendous
ambassador for our state. I had the pleasure of appointing Wayman to serve
on the state Tourism Commission, and it was one of the best appointments I
have made as governor.
"In his two-year battle with cancer, Wayman demonstrated courage, faith
and true strength of character. 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
"Wayman Tisdale was a man of extraordinary talents and an extraordinary
heart, and he will be deeply missed. Kim and I have Wayman's wife,
children and family in our thoughts and prayers."
Former men's basketball coach Billy Tubbs, who was Tisdale's coach at OU
"Wayman, through this fight of his, was the most courageous person that I've ever seen. He was so positive he almost made you feel he was okay when you knew he wasn't.
"It's a shock. I don't know of any athlete at Oklahoma or any place else who was more loved by the fans who knew him than Wayman Tisdale. He was obviously, a great, great player, but Wayman as a person overshadowed that.
"He just lit up a room and was so positive. This is a really hard loss and makes any loss in basketball or any other sport insignificant.
"He was a great human being. I'll miss everything about him."
Current OU men's basketball coach Jeff Capel
"Wayman Tisdale is one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He had an incredible gift of making the people who came in contact with him feel incredibly special.
"His basketball talent and accomplishments pale in comparison to the impact he had on the lives that he influenced by the way he lived his life, and the tremendous character he displayed in his fight with cancer. Throughout it all, he always had that infectious smile.
"This is an incredibly sad day as we have lost not only one of the greatest Sooners ever, but one of the all-time best people to walk the face of this earth."
University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren
"Wayman Tisdale was not only a great athlete and musician, he was above all a great person. He constantly demonstrated his care and concern for others and was a worthy role model for all of us young and old. The University of Oklahoma will always be proud of his association with the university."
OU All-American basketball player Blake Griffin
"This is obviously a sad day, not just for Sooner fans but for anybody who knows Wayman, knows the kind of person he is, the joy he brings into people's lives and the example he is to everybody.
"I was privileged to get to know him over the two years I was at OU. I spoke with him pretty frequently this past season and he helped me in ways he probably doesn't even know. He's touched so many lives. I'm just happy he's going to a better place."
Basketball All-American Stacey King, who played at OU from 1986-89
"Wayman's one of the biggest reasons why I chose Oklahoma. I wanted to be part of something special and it made logical sense to go to OU because I wanted to pattern my game after him. I wanted to be like him.
"People used to talk about 'Be like Mike (Michael Jordan),' but I wanted to be like Wayman. We've lost a special person. I don't think there will ever be another Wayman Tisdale."
University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione
"Wayman Tisdale's genuine and purposeful approach to life exemplified qualities which improved virtually every situation or inspired every person he encountered. His imposing presence and indomitable spirit were eclipsed only by his enormous heart and selfless humility.
"He was authentic and demonstrated a passion in life for truly enriching the lives of others. On the basketball court, he was the kind of player who transcends time. He was legendary the day he slipped on an Oklahoma Sooners uniform and he left a legacy almost impossible to emulate.
"We are profoundly saddened by his loss and we grieve today with Wayman's family and friends. We also share with them our sincere gratitude for we are so much better for having known him. His life's legacy will serve as an inspiration for all of us as we endeavor to be better people ourselves."
Darryl "Choo" Kennedy, Oklahoma forward (1984-87)
"He was my man. I played with him pretty much all my life, going back to AAU. He was the reason I wanted to go to OU. I wanted to play with one of the greatest players to ever come out of Oklahoma.
"He was a great person. He was always positive, he never let the negative bring us down as a unit. He always smiled and kept us together.
"I'll miss him. He was one of my brothers."
Tommy Tubbs, Tisdale's teammate at OU and the son of former Sooner coach Billy Tubbs
"If you didn't like Wayman Tisdale, something was wrong with you. He was such a great player, a great musician, a great husband and father. The state of Oklahoma lost a great man. He touched so many people's lives in a positive way.
"I'm honored to have known him and to have been his teammate and friend. He's in heaven now with his dad. He's playing the bass and he has no pain."
OU women's basketball coach Sherri Coale
"He was the most amazing individual. He was one of the most inspirational people of all time.
"What I appreciated most about Wayman was the joy with which he played and that smile. Whenever people this year would talk about Whitney (Hand) and her smile, it would always make me think about Wayman. He was the type of individual that had such passion. Whatever he did, he did with that passion that defined him. Obviously, he was talented but it was the uncanny passion that fueled his talent."
Frances Jordan, executive director of Greenwood Cultural center
"We just feel that Wayman was an awesome person to know. He gave back to the community but not only in sports but with his music. He was such an inspiration to young people.
"... Wayman's legacy speaks for itself. He was such a strong, honest man."
Tulsa men's basketball coach Doug Wojcik
"Sometimes you judge people by what kind of player they were, but by having attended the Legacy Award Dinner honoring Wayman last month and learning more about his life, his music and his family, it's a real shame to see someone who is so well-rounded pass at such an early age.
"I actually showed the DVD of his recovery to our team. I wanted to teach them the lesson that nothing is free in life. There are always struggles. Here's this great player, a three-time All-American and a 12-year pro who was perfectly healthy and then all of a sudden he has cancer and loses his right leg. It's a sad day for the Tisdale family, sad day for the city of Tulsa, sad day for the University of Oklahoma and anyone who was associated with Wayman Tisdale."
Lt. Governor Askins
OKLAHOMA CITY -- “Wayman was a true Oklahoma ambassador and his love for the state was unmatched. As an NBA star he traveled the country but still returned home to raise his family. An accomplished musician, father, and husband, Wayman was one-of-a-kind.
Serving on the State Tourism Commission, he was an incredible advocate for Oklahoma. He wanted the best for the Sooner State and he consistently gave back as an active member of the Commission. His contributions will be celebrated and his presence will be missed.
Oklahoma has lost a favorite son today.”
Kansas coach Bill Self, who competed against Tisdale while playing point guard at Oklahoma State
"It's just so sad.
"Wayman changed Oklahoma basketball forever. He was the best player that the state has ever had. He had an incredible combination of talent and charisma. Watching Wayman play then was like watching LeBron James play now. Wayman was that dominant and that much fun to watch."
Chuck Cissel, Jazz Hall of Fame CEO
"It's a very sad day here at the Jazz Hall of Fame," said CEO Chuck Cissel. "Wayman was really well-loved."
Cissel recalled a New York show of Tisdale's, and the two sharing a limo ride afterward.
"Everywhere in the country, he was a sell-out artist," Cissel said. "I think in the last few years we began to recognize what we had in our presence."
He said Tisdale was "key in the equation" of jazz, at home and abroad.
"Wayman is an essential part in the history of jazz in the state of Oklahoma. He is integral to the art form in this country."
Oklahoma City Thunder chairman Clay Bennett
“The entire Thunder organization is deeply saddened by the loss of Wayman Tisdale. We will forever remember the April night he was honored at a Thunder game. His smile radiated throughout the arena as fans and players on both benches all rose and cheered in tribute.
"He was a remarkable athlete and competitor, but most of all a tremendous person. His courage fighting cancer and helping others along the way are a lasting inspiration for us all. We extend our thoughts and prayers to Regina, their children and the entire Tisdale family.”
John Brooks, former OU play-by-play voice who called every game during Tisdale's career
"This is a very sad day. I was staggered by the news. It's a very nice memory for me - that I got to broadcast every game that Wayman ever played. There was magic on the court in that first college game he ever played, and it continued through the end of the final game he played for OU. I'm not sure I've ever known anyone who had such a positive effect on people.
"Without question, Wayman is the most charismatic athlete I've ever known. Everybody is saying it because it is true. What is forgotten by a lot of people is that he averaged more than 15 points per game in the NBA, and did it mostly for bad teams. He was a very good professional player, and he's probably one of the top 20 jazz musicians of all time. A tremendous musician and performer."