[JPL] Thousands turn out to mourn Wayman Tisdale

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Thu May 21 23:16:32 EDT 2009

Thousands turn out to mourn Wayman Tisdale


TULSA, Okla. (AP) --- With his casket carried in a horse-drawn carriage, 
Wayman Tisdale was remembered Thursday as a basketball star and gifted 
musician by thousands of mourners swaying to gospel tunes.

The body of the former Oklahoma All-American traveled three miles from 
the funeral home to the downtown arena.

About 4,000 people, including former NBA players, pop musicians and 
former coaches, attended the memorial. There was live jazz music, 
clapping and shouting in honor of the man who died last week at 44 after 
a long battle with cancer.

"Wayman lived a blessed life," said Billy Tubbs, Tisdale's former 
Oklahoma coach. "He did more in his 44 years than most people can do in 
88 years."

Pallbearers stepped to the beat of jazz music played on stage by 
Tisdale's band. Leading the pallbearers was a man wearing white gloves 
and holding a basketball above his head as he marched to the stage in 
step with the music. He placed the ball on a stand on the stage, and the 
casket followed.

Tisdale, a 6-foot-9 forward, played 12 seasons in the NBA for the 
Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. Former NBA players 
Charles Smith, Rory Sparrow and John Starks paid tribute Thursday. A.C. 
Green, a minister and ex-NBA player, spoke early in the service.

"He, in my opinion, was the first athlete to really put Tulsa on the 
map," said Starks, also from Tulsa. "Wayman was a person I looked up to."

Country music star and fellow Oklahoman Toby Keith played the Willie 
Nelson tune, "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground." He said he had 
written a song about Tisdale, but that he wouldn't be performing it 
given the emotion of the day.

"We had so many big plans," Keith told mourners. "Every time I tried to 
say goodbye to him, he never let me."

Tisdale recorded eight albums. A bass guitarist who often wrote his own 
material, his most recent album, "Rebound," was inspired by his fight 
with cancer and included guest appearances by several artists, including 
saxophonist Dave Koz and Keith.

His "Way Up!" release debuted in July 2006 and spent four weeks as the 
No. 1 contemporary jazz album. His hits included "Ain't No Stopping Us 
Now," "Can't Hide Love" and "Don't Take Your Love Away."

Jazz musician Dave Koz worked on three of Tisdale's albums. He ticked 
off a list of things about his friend: "that big, bald head, goofy 
laughs, those big, huge feet with those basketball toes, those big bites 
he took out of life and his sandwiches."

Musician Marcus Miller said Tisdale never let a wall come between him 
and his fans.

"I've seen Wayman signing autographs with a chicken wing in one hand in 
the middle of dinner," Miller cracked.

A day earlier, hundreds of mourners packed a small church to pay 
respects. Some waited more than two hours in line to catch a glimpse of 
the open casket.

Tisdale's high school classmate Lisa Miles fought back tears while 
explaining why she came Thursday.

"He was a big teddy bear," Miles said. "Always there to hug you, always 
had a good word to say. He was a beautiful man."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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