NORMAN — About 40 years ago, Gerald Tucker returned home from a business trip to find his wife standing in the middle of all of the reminders of his accomplishments.
An Olympic gold medal. The Helms Foundation College Basketball Player of the Year Award. Numerous trophies for basketball and tennis. Mementos of his days as a big band singer.
Deeon Tucker had found the boxes in the attic and was floored.
“What is all this?” she asked Gerald.
“Oh, you found it,” he answered before apologizing profusely. “Well, I wanted you to love me for who I am and not what I’d done in the past.”
Those trophies, plaques and photos immediately went up on the wall at the Tucker home.
Gerald Tucker has been gone for more than 35 years. Deeon died a decade later.
But next week, those accomplishments will be complemented by Tucker’s induction into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
It’s an honor that Ted Owens has advocated for Tucker for several years. It will be Owens, who followed Tucker at the University of Oklahoma, who presents Tucker into the hall.
“Gerald was sort of a legend when I arrived at OU,” said Owens, who was inducted himself in 2010. “A lot of his teammates were still on the team, and I played with them and heard a lot of the great stories about Gerald.”
Owens heard about Tucker’s tremendous low-post presence, even at 6-foot-4.
“He was not a great athlete in terms of — he wasn’t particularly fast, he couldn’t dunk the ball so he couldn’t jump very high, he was flat-footed. But in spite of those handicaps, if you’d get him the ball in the low post, he was incredible.
“He was equally good with his left hand as he was with his right. He was a state champion in tennis. He was just an incredibly talented person.”
Tucker starred for the Sooners in the ’40s. In 1943, he was a Helms Foundation All-American before serving in World War II.
When he returned, he earned the National Player of the Year award in 1947, a year after Oklahoma A&M’s Bob Kurland won the honor.
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