We Remember Wayman Tisdale

By Gary A. Johnson


Wayman Tisdale lost his two-year battle to cancer today at the age of 44.  It was reported that Tisdale discovered he had an aggressive form of cancer called Osteosarcoma about two years ago after breaking his leg after a fall at his home.  Osteosarcoma affected his knee specifically and doctors needed to remove the cancerous cyst.  Though the procedure was successful, the subsequent rounds of chemotherapy didn’t convince doctors that the cancer was gone.  The bone cancer lingered and Tisdale consented to have the lower portion of his right leg amputated in an attempt to stop the cancer from spreading.

I was a big fan of Tisdale as an NBA player but a bigger fan from his life as a musician.  I have all of his CD’s and enjoyed his unique bass playing.  After news of Tisdale’s cancer became public, I followed his career closely.  From every report that I’ve read, Tisdale never took a music lesson.  He just loved to play music as a young man and that he didn’t know the names of the notes for his songs.

Part of Tisdale’s public persona was optimism, even after a portion of his leg was amputated.  Take a look at this video of Wayman giving his fans an update on his condition after his surgery.

When I hear that a man who was a world-class athlete dies at 44 it stops me in my tracks.  It forces me to reflect on a discussion I had with my father earlier this year about 3 weeks before he passed away.  My Dad was down in the dumps because his mother was healthier than he was.  I looked at him and said, “Dad, you have to put your energy on getting better and play the hand that you were dealt.”  My father lived a full adult life, having survived a terrible childhood.  The father I knew was decent and kindhearted man who loved his family.

I imagine there must have been times when Wayman Tisdale asked:  “Why me?”  I also imagine Wayman probably answered the question by replying:  “Why not me?”

Wayman Tisdale NBA

I never met Wayman Tisdale, but my sense is that he was a special man.  He was on this earth for 44 years, which is not a long time, but he got the most out of his years.  From a college All-American, former NBA basketball great accomplished jazz bassist, and a family man.  My condolences to the Tisdale family, to those who knew him and to those who wish they did.

Tisdale Family

Wayman Tisdale with his wife and children

Click here to see an emotional news segment on Wayman Tisdale posted on Tulsa Oklahoma’s NewsChannel 8 web site the day before Tisdale passed away.


Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

7 Responses to “We Remember Wayman Tisdale”

  1. Jeff the Interpreter Says:

    Wow, I thought he was out of the wood, I realize what a huge sacrifice to have to loose a leg, especially coming from a successful career in professional basketball. His music and energy was astounding. I saw him at the Capital Jazzfest and loved his good humor. Even with Chris Botti or one of the jazz saxaphonist playfully kicked him, (and you never kick a Black man). He smiled and enjoyed the moment to share his gift. He will be missed.

  2. The NBA should create an osteosarcoma research fund in memory of this great former basketball player and great and loving man.

    It is mostly children who get this disease, through no fault of their own or their parents, and there is hardly any money available for RESEARCH INTO THE CAUSES AND CURE OF OSTEOSARCOMA.

    Most children don’t get the best treatment which costs as much as a half million dollars. The best artificial limbs cost about thirty five thousand dollars and the cheap versions cost about five thousand dollars. Only the lucky children get the expensive ones and the others are much harder to use.

    Young boys idolize NBA players and without them the NBA wouldn’t exist. The NBA should pay these young people back with a well-endowed osteosarcoma fund.

    Osteosarcoma is a disease of childhood and children can’t defend themselves. It’s up to us.

  3. James,

    Thank you for sharing your insights and knowledge about Osteosarcoma and how it affects children.

  4. I would like to first extend my celebrations to the family of Mr. tisdale. It might sound vague but the point I’m trying to make is that he is in a better place and as he said in his song” Ain’t No Stopping Him Now”. He is able to be free and party with the most iconic man in the universe, oh Blessed him.

  5. I am so very sorry for the loss of such a wonderful man. I would have liked to have had the pleasure to meet him, for I know I would have been touched. Let him play glorious music in Heaven…

  6. I didnt know Mr. Tisdale as a Basketball Player, However I love his music and play it all the time..He seemed like a beautiful person.. RIP . I know he is truly missed!

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