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Tue, 06.09.1964

Wayman Tisdale, Athlete, and Musician born

Wayman Tisdale

*Wayman Tisdale was born on this date in 1964. He was a Black (retired) professional basketball player and a musician.

Wayman Lawrence Tisdale was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father, Louis Tisdale, was a well-known pastor in Tulsa, serving for 28 years as senior pastor of Friendship Church; a Tulsa road was named L. L. Tisdale Parkway in 2005 after him. Wayman's older brother Weldon has been pastor of the church since 1997. Tisdale graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Growing up, he was not interested in basketball, yet he began attending the sport in the eighth grade when he first learned to dunk. Tisdale was the first freshman to be a first-team All-American since freshmen were allowed to play again in 1971-72.  He was also one of 10 three-time All-Americans: The others were Oscar Robertson, Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor, Pete Maravich, Patrick Ewing, Tom Gola, Jerry Lucas, David Thompson, and Ralph Sampson. Tisdale and Ewing were the last to accomplish the feat, from 1983-85.

Tisdale called music his "first love." He was a self-taught musician; he never took any lessons, knew what key any of the pieces he played was written in, or even the names of the notes.  Throughout his youth and college basketball career, he played bass guitar at his father's church. Music and church were so important to Tisdale that after recruiting him to the University of Oklahoma, Sooners head coach Billy Tubbs changed the team's practice schedule to accommodate Tisdale, moving the team's Sunday practice from the morning to the evening to allow him to play in the Sooners' band and at morning services in his father's church in Tulsa.

He averaged 25.6 points and 10.1 rebounds during his three seasons with the Sooners, earning Big Eight Conference player of the year each season. He holds Oklahoma’s career scoring record with 2,661 points and a career rebounding record of 1,048. Tisdale also owns the school’s single-game scoring mark, a 61-point outing against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore, along with career records in points per game, field goals, and free throws made and attempts.

He met his future wife, Regina, in April 1981 at church. At the time, they were juniors at different Tulsa high schools. Years later, they married and had four children. He played on the US Olympic team, winning the Los Angeles gold medal. Tisdale, a 6-foot-9 forward with a soft left-handed shooting touch, played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns. He averaged 15.3 points for his career.

After his basketball career, he became a member of the Oklahoma Tourism Board. He also became an award-winning jazz musician, with several albums making the top 10 on the Billboard charts. He learned of a cancerous cyst below his right knee after breaking his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles in 2007. His leg was amputated in 2008. He has made several public appearances since April 7, 2009, at an Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game. Also, during that time, he was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Wayman Tisdale died on May 15, 2009, at St. John’s Medical Center in Tulsa, OK. Senate Majority Leader Todd Lamb, who led the chamber in prayer, announced his death on the Oklahoma Senate floor that day. “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.”

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