Parting Words: A Tribute To Wayman Tisdale

Host Rebecca Roberts remembers basketball star-turned-jazz star Wayman Tisdale. He died of bone cancer this week at age 44.

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REBECCA ROBERTS, host:

There're not too many people who are stars in two completely different professions all before age 35.

Our Parting Words tonight, a tribute to Wayman Tisdale who died yesterday at his home from bone cancer. He was 44. Tisdale was a six foot nine basketball legend, one of the best players in University of Oklahoma history. He was a three-time All American, and a member of the U.S. Team that won Olympic gold in 1984. He then went on to a 12-year NBA career playing for the Pacers, the Kings and the Suns. It was while Wayman Tisdale was playing in Phoenix that he decided to go pro with his other love, music.

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He'd learned to play on a Mickey Mouse guitar when he was a kid and he realized, he said, that basketball was only something he could play for the moment. Music, he could play forever.

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Tisdale recorded eight albums of smooth jazz and R&B starting with 1995s aptly titled, "Power Forward." He balanced both careers for a little while, but after injuries on the court and the death of his father, Wayman Tisdale decided to retire the jersey and pick up the bass guitar full-time. He was such a hit that many of his music fans who said had no idea he'd ever been a basketball player, something he was proud of. Several of his albums made it into the Billboard Top 10.

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Wayman Tisdale was known as gentle soul, both on the court and on stage, and as an optimist even in the face of his two-year battle with cancer, which cost him a leg in 2007. That same year he told EBONY magazine, I was born to entertain. I just love people. And I feel like entertainment goes right in line with my personality. Whether it's on the stage or playing basketball, it's just what I've been called to do on this earth.

Wayman Tisdale died yesterday at the age of 44.

That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Roberts.

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