Get well, Wayman

By Jenni Carlson Modified: May 15, 2009 at 11:15 am •  Published: September 15, 2008
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Get well, Wayman.

The words are so simple, and yet, they are exactly what Wayman Tisdale needs right now.

Three weeks ago today, the basketball legend had the lower part of his right leg amputated. He has been battling bone cancer since early last year, but the amputation was a radical move to eradicate the disease from Tisdale's body.


The news shocked many, even those who know him well.

Tisdale, after all, has always had a larger-than-life quality to him.

He was a basketball star at every level. The best prep player our fair state has ever seen, the Tulsa Washington High School superstar became a three-time All-American at Oklahoma. Then, he spent a dozen years in the NBA.

And when his basketball career was done, he started a new one in jazz music. Tisdale became a star once again.

He's excelled at everything he's ever done.

There's little reason to believe that will change with his cancer battle. That's what those who have known him best believe. They tell the stories that reveal his personality and the tales that expose his spirit.

They know Wayman will win now like he always has.

Yet, they offer well wishes, too.

Tisdale has said that kind words from others helped him like nothing else could after his initial diagnosis. They buoyed him. They lifted him.

So, get well, Wayman.

This seems like the least that can be done.

A NOTE FROM JEFF CAPEL, OU basketball coach

“Wayman, we love you and are praying for you. We can't wait to see you again back around at our games and supporting your Sooners. We can't wait to see you back out on the road touring and hear some of that great music that you play."

My brother and I had a little Nerf hoop in the house that we would play on. We'd draft players from college basketball. Wayman was probably the only guy outside the ACC or the Big East that was ever drafted in our little one-on-one game where ... we were all five guys.

It was just how good he was, how effortlessly he scored, how athletic he was. He seemed to just enjoy every second he was on the floor. I'd never seen a guy that was as good as him and scored as much as he did and have a smile on his face like that.

I talked to him about two weeks before he had his surgery. When I gave him a call, I wasn't sure how he was going to be. I was incredibly amazed at how positive he was. It was just amazing the positive energy that he had.

A NOTE FROM AL ESCHBACH, Former OU basketball radio announcer

"Just do what you've been doing your whole life, and you're going to be fine, you're going to be happy. Just be Wayman Tisdale."

A story that typifies Wayman ... is his first NCAA Tournament. They're playing in Evansville, Ind. The second game, they're playing Indiana. On the team bus going out to the game, everybody is just really quiet. All of a sudden from the back of the bus, we hear a scream. It's Wayman Tisdale screaming "I can't go! I can't go! I'm afraid to play Bobby Knight!" It just cracked everybody up. He was a freshman then, and you could see what a leader he was.

He's a great competitor, a tremendous competitor. When I read the story about the leg, I was obviously saddened by it, but knowing Wayman, he will pull through. Wayman's tough. He's really tough.

A NOTE FROM BLAKE GRIFFIN, OU basketball player

"I just wish him a speedy and quick recovery. I hope he knows that everything he's done ... he's touched so many people in so many ways. Not just basketball but in so many ways."

I never got to see him play, but I remember stories from my dad and people like that. All the things he could do. How smooth he was.

I want to say I was already at OU when I first met him. I talked to him on the phone before about the whole number thing. I called him and I said, "Hey, Mr. Tisdale, this is Blake Griffin. I wanted to call and see if it was O.K. if I wore No. 23." He laughed. He said, "As long as you start doing big things up there again." I said, "We'll try."

He's just been a positive supporter.

A NOTE FROM DARRYL "CHOO" KENNEDY, Former OU basketball player

"You know you can always depend on me. Anything you ever need, I'll try to help if I can.

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