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How a Norman family 'adopted' Wayman Tisdale

COMMENTARY — Charles and Cheryl Hollingsworth forged a lifetime bond with the late OU star. It began over meals at their house, but grew into much more.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 26, 2013

Desserts were a whole other matter.

Wayman came over to the Hollingsworths' for one of the boys' birthday parties, and since it was around Halloween, Cheryl had baked a small cake shaped like a coffin.

“Is that the biggest cake you've got?” Wayman asked Cheryl.

“Yes,” she said.

She had extra cupcakes in the back, but she decided not to tell that to Wayman right away.

“Oh, Mama,” he said, seriously as he looked at the coffin cake, “that won't feed us.”

The Tisdale brothers didn't eat and run, by the way. They would stay and watch TV or play Nintendo with the boys or just talk. They shared about their family, their love of music, their spirituality.

That created a bond that lasted long beyond the adoption program, which stopped after only one season. There were worries that it might be seen as an illegal benefit under NCAA rules, so it was discontinued.

But for the remainder of his time at OU, Wayman would regularly call the Hollingsworths out of the blue.

“What's going on over there?” he'd ask.

Lots of times, Wayman and William would just want to come over and hang out.

“When they went anywhere else, there were just all these people,” Cheryl said of the buzz that blew up around Wayman. “They'd try to go get a hamburger, and there were all these people. They liked it, but it got old.”

At the Hollingsworths' house, there were no fans seeking autographs or wanting pictures. Wayman could just relax and be himself.

Even after he left OU after his junior season, he never forgot the Hollingsworths' hospitality. He called them once or twice a year just to check in — and they checked on him after he was diagnosed with cancer that first took his leg, then ultimately took his life — and whenever they happened to bump into each other at OU games, he was always quick with smiles and hugs.

“Are you Wayman Tisdale?” Charles jokingly asked when he ran into Wayman once at a football game.

“Dad!” Wayman proclaimed as he enveloped him in a hug.

The Hollingsworths laughed as they recalled the story.

“He never forgot who we were,” Cheryl said.

And they never forgot him.

Never will either.

“Wayman never asked for anything from us other than love and affection and a relationship,” Charles said.

Cheryl smiled.

“And food,” she said.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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