Former Hooper Tisdale Loses Battle With Cancer

Tisdale's greatest gift was heart

Some people are just talented. You've no doubt run into one of these people before, probably in high school: the kid who gets straight A's without much effort, who makes friends easily, whose athletic achievements are famous, all that stuff. Everything comes with such a lesser degree of difficulty. It's like they're living in a different world.

Wayman Tisdale was one of these people. The former NBA and college hoops star passed away on Friday morning after losing a two-year battle with cancer. He was 44.

Most people will remember Tisdale for his NBA career. He was a good-but-not-great power forward who averaged 15.3 points per game in his career, one of those guys that makes a good living in the pros without any major superstardom; Tisdale was solid, but not otherworldly. His career was bookended by his college days at Oklahoma -- where he was the first freshman to ever be an All-American -- and a successful smooth jazz career in retirement. Yes, you read that correctly: Tisdale's work on the electric bass spanned eight albums, numerous Billboard hits, and a variety of big-name collaborations, including with Toby Keith.

But by all accounts, Tisdale's greatest gift was his way with people. That sound sappy. For Tisdale, though, it's true: He was famously upbeat, refusing to despair over his cancer, always remaining positive, all of that. The sort of thing that, were we diagnosed with cancer, we would probably not be able to do. Tisdale had a leg amputated; he barely seemed to notice. He still smiled, just like during his playing days -- that smile, perhaps, the most famous thing about Wayman Tisdale. There are worse fates, we suppose.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

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