Wayman Tisdale, who became a successful jazz musician after retiring from pro basketball, died Friday morning following a two-year battle with cancer, his agent said.
Tisdale, 44, died in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital, where his wife took him when he had trouble breathing early Friday, agent Scott Pang said. Tisdale’s death was “a complete shock” and came as he prepared to return to the recording studio next week to work on a project with jazz guitarist Norman Brown, Pang said. “He was a real testament to the power of positive thinking,” said Pang. “Even after the cancer and amputating his leg above his knee, he never lost that smile on his face.” Doctors discovered Tisdale’s bone cancer after he broke his leg in a fall down a flight of stairs, according to the official biography on his Web site. “It really showed me what’s important in life, man,” he said in his bio. “It’s not getting as many houses as I can, not driving the biggest cars. What’s important is family and being healthy.” Tisdale averaged 15 points and six rebounds a game over a 12-year NBA career, during which he played with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, according to the NBA Web site. His jazz recording career began in 1995 — two years before his 1997 NBA retirement — with a debut CD that rose to No. 4 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart and crossed over onto the R&B charts, the bio said. Subsequent songs — including “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” “Can’t Hide Love” and “Don’t Take Your Love Away” — were top radio hits. Tisdale is survived by his wife, four children and one granddaughter.