“Cancer might’ve taken my leg, but it can’t take my smile,” said Wayman Tisdale as he smiled while holding his bass guitar. This is how he approached life—he smiled while playing his music.
I was one of the lucky few to be given a chance to watch the advance screener on the Wayman Tisdale story. And it was a privileged look on a person who gave so much and expected nothing in return.
Wayman was an All-American, Olympian and 12-year NBA veteran. He was a ferocious rebounder and a great scorer. He always went on and off the court with a smile. This was his trademark, a gesture that lifted up any person’s or teammate’s spirits.
It was his way of saying that even if you are on the losing end, everything is still going to be all right.
And when Wayman was alone and frustrated, he would slip out of a room and grab his guitar and start playing.
This was his therapy…it got him through frustrating games, through losing teams and through the death of his father. It always brought him back to his childhood memory, when his father was a pastor, and he would listen to all the music and start playing.
Wayman had no formal training; he didn’t even know how to read notes. It was like the moment he grabbed the guitar, he already felt a connection. Music was his first love and when he was not lifting people’s lives, it’s his music and his family that kept him going.
After his NBA career, Wayman finally went back to his first love. He became a jazz artist and produced eight albums. His last album was called Rebound, released after he was diagnosed with the cancer that led to amputation of his right leg.
“You have to be strong mentally; you have to be strong mentally…” Wayman said as he went through the whole ordeal with a positive outlook. Many questioned and were amazed how he handled the situation so positively, and he just said, “You got my leg but you can’t get my spirit” then flashed that familiar grin.
It was also a situation that made Wayman’s faith stronger.
He wanted to preach about how to be strong and always to trust God’s infinite plan. This was his calling, and his music was his instrument to reach wounded souls. He received calls from strangers thanking him for his music. There was one who contemplated suicide, but after hearing his music, he changed his mind.
“Rebound” was Wayman’s last word of encouragement—rebound to what you are going through right now…
Though Wayman is no longer with us, the fight that he fought wasn’t in vain. Even though I never met him personally, his story inspired me to get up and to stand with my head up high.
This is Wayman Tisdale’s legacy…and his music lives on.
THE WAYMAN TISDALE STORY SCREENING DATES
October 29 Holland Hall Tulsa, OK (reception
November 3 Murdoch Theater Wichita, KS (screening
*Charity Event for Victory in the Valley Cancer Center
November 4 Lloyd Noble Center | Oklahoma University Norman,
OK (reception 6p/screening 7p)
*Sponsored by the Scott Carter Foundation
November 6 Moorehouse Church Oklahoma City, OK
November 9 Oklahoma Hall of Fame Muskogee, OK
*with Marcus Miller
November 11 Tabernacle Baptist Church Wichita, KS
(doors 6:30p/screening 7p)
November 12 Booker T. Washington High School Tulsa, OK
(doors 6:30p/screening 7:30p)
November 12 Skokie Theater Chicago, IL (screening
November 13 Bishop McGuinness High School Oklahoma City, OK
November 16 LA Live Cinemas Los Angeles, CA (doors
*Charity event for A.C Green Youth Foundation