We always intended to sit down with Wayman Tisdale and interview the basketball legend and jazz superstar for our "Collected Wisdom” series. Trouble was, he never sat still long enough. But when Tisdale died Friday after a public and courageous battle with cancer, we realized he had been sharing his wisdom all along. It was simply up to us to collect it. As long as you live, you’re going to have some bumps in the road. It’s how you come out of those that determines your character and who you are as a person. It’s very seldom that I have a down day. I was raised like that. That’s why it’s so easy for me to smile. My smile is not fake. My father told me not to get the big head. He knew that I was having a lot of success, and he said one thing he didn’t want me to do was get the big head. And I respect him a lot. Got to respect him. He’s a big man. Got arms like a cannon. My father bought Mickey Mouse guitars for me and my brothers. I’m trying to figure it out. Of course, my brothers are athletes, so they used them as hockey sticks and baseball bats. They did not take care of those guitars. But my father noticed I kept mine. He’s like, "We’ll buy you a guitar for Christmas. A real guitar.” I just played in church. My father didn’t want me out playing in bands. He used to be in some bands himself, and he knew about the band life. I’m always thinking ahead. Even when I was playing (basketball), I kept thinking what was next. I’d spent quite awhile going to (record) companies saying, "Hi, I’m Wayman Tisdale, I’m with the Phoenix Suns,” and watching them turn their heads and say, "Oh, no, not another novelty project.” So ... I just decided I was going to put my album out on my own. 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. The break was a blessing. Thank God they discovered it when the leg broke. I was the type of person that didn’t even take a lot of medicine. I can’t even remember the last time I was sick. Then for this to happen ... when they first told me, I was like, "No, not me.” It’s a matter of wills. Is it going to beat me, or am I going to beat it? There were some nights where I thought it was getting the best of me. You just have to plow through it. I’m probably the most positive thinker I know. My mom said, "It could’ve been in your arms. It could’ve been anywhere. It could’ve hindered you from what you were doing. This will slow you down, but it’s not going to stop you. It hasn’t stopped me. The first round of chemo was tough. The second round was tougher. I don’t see how something that could make you so sick could be good for you. I saw this disease at its core at M.D. Anderson. We’d share blankets sometimes in the waiting room because we were so cold. When I saw that, I was like, "You know what? This will not go unsaid, untouched. I will be back. I will help the same people that I saw.” I saw ground zero. You won’t hear me complain. You won’t hear me give a pity party. I’ve had a great life. I’ve rode it to the wheels. You can’t imagine the life I’ve had. I feel so blessed and honored. I just want people to think of me as a good person. I want them to think of me as a person who is having fun and bringing happiness to everybody.
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