TULSA -- During a Monday press conference at the Friendship Baptist Church, family members spoke publicly for the first time since the death of Wayman Tisdale. "I’m his brother and I may be slightly biased, but I say that the nation has lost a great man," said Weldon Tisdale, pastor of the Friendship church. On Friday, Wayman Tisdale died of complications related to bone cancer. The 44-year-old Tisdale, a three-time University of Oklahoma basketball All-American during the ’80s, had battled cancer for two years. Last year, his right leg was amputated just above the knee. Speaking during the Monday press conference were three of Tisdale’s brothers - Dannie, Weldon and William. Wayman Tisdale’s funeral service is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at the BOK Center. "The Tisdale family is doing about as well as expected. This is a tremendously tough time," Weldon said. "We are really standing strong for his wife, his three daughters and son. We’re just surrounding them with as much support and prayer as possible. He meant everything to his wife and children. They are experiencing the loss not only of a father, but really of a friend. He was just a funny guy. His character was just so funny. He made you laugh and he made his children laugh." "There is a sense of great emptiness," Weldon added. "How do we carry on through these days? There is a scripture in the Bible that says, ‘Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’ My only question is, how long will night be? We wonder sometimes when morning will come, but we know that as time goes, morning will show up." Responding to the possibility that more than 10,000 mourners could attend Thursday’s service, Weldon said, "We shared Wayman for 30 years, so why should we stop sharing him now?" Wayman was the youngest of the six children of the Rev. L.L. and Deborah Tisdale. L.L. Tisdale died in 1997. "My mother is doing as well as expected," Weldon said on Monday. "She has said for years how difficult it is for a child to leave before a parent. So we are really keeping our arms around her and keeping her covered at this time." A jazz musician who recorded eight albums, Wayman Tisdale died while in the midst of a national concert tour. This week, he was scheduled to perform three shows - in Seattle on Friday, at San Diego’s Gaslamp Festival on Saturday and in Houston on Sunday. On Monday, William Tisdale recalled that when Wayman was a child, he received an acoustic guitar from his father. When Wayman needed a replacement string, he would use thread pulled from a section of worn carpet. During the press conference, Weldon Tisdale acknowledged the "suddenness" of Wayman’s death. "There was no indication that it would happen like this," Weldon said. "None at all." William said Wayman was at his home on Thursday night and was rushed to St. John Medical Center on Friday morning. "I was at home, getting ready for work, and my phone rang around 7:50 that morning," William said. "And then I got another call that was more urgent. There was the initial shock that he was gone, but then there was the reality that he didn’t have to suffer anymore. "I think he and God had a deal, and (Wayman) left under his own terms." Weldon said the Tisdales have been uplifted by an avalanche of support both locally and nationally. "So many people from around this nation have sent responses and e-mails and correspondence, and it’s been absolutely a blessing to see that (Wayman) touched so many lives," Weldon said. "He loved people unconditionally, just for who they were. It’s not often that you find someone of his caliber who is so humble. "Part of us want to be surprised and overwhelmed and amazed by (the national reaction to Wayman’s death). . . . Part of it does surprise me, but deep down inside, it shouldn’t surprise us. We’re getting reports from all over the country about major newspaper articles everywhere, in cities that he was never a part of. It’s rewarding to know that he is that well thought of."
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