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Wayman Tisdale, NBA Star & Smooth Jazz Artist Dies

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Wayman Tisdale
Wayman Tisdale, a three-time All-American at Oklahoma, who played 12 seasons in the NBA, died after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 44.

Tisdale died Friday morning at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, hospital spokeswoman Joy McGill said.

Tisdale learned of a cancerous cyst below his right knee after breaking his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2007. His leg was amputated last August. He made several public appearances since, including April 7 at an Oklahoma City Thunder game.

A 6-foot-9 forward from Tulsa with a soft left-handed touch, Tisdale played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. He averaged 15.3 points for his career. He was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

After his basketball career, he became an award-winning jazz musician, with several albums making the top 10 on the Billboard charts. Last month, he was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Wayman Tisdale is one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said in a statement. “He had an incredible gift of making the people who came in contact with him feel incredibly special."

Tisdale's death was announced on the Oklahoma Senate floor Friday by Senate Majority Leader Todd Lamb, who led the chamber in prayer.

“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."

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. Ewing and Tisdale were the last to accomplish the feat, from 1983-85.

Tisdale played on an Olympic team that sailed to the gold medal in Los Angeles, winning its game by 32 points. The squad was coached by Bob Knight and featured the likes of Ewing, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Chris Mullin.

Tisdale 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 still holds Oklahoma's career scoring record with 2,661 points and career rebounding record with 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.

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