Known for his ability to rebound on the court, Wayman Tisdale is now applying that ability to his life off of the court. The former Sun, known for his soft touch, infectious smile and musical talent, was diagnosed with cancer after falling down the stairs of his L.A. home and shattering his right leg in February 2007.
As Tisdale told ESPN.com about the experience, “It felt like someone swung a baseball bat and just shattered it. I screamed like crazy and almost blacked out.”
After earning an Olympic gold medal, becoming a three-time collegiate All-American at Oklahoma and concluding a 12-year NBA career where he averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, Tisdale moved on to a successful second career as a jazz guitar player.
Since retiring from the NBA with the Suns in 1997, the former Sooner recorded eight albums before he broke his leg. Having never broken a bone in 20 years before the incident, it took eight weeks to determine that Tisdale had cancer.
After enduring large treatments of chemotherapy that proved to be ineffective, Tisdale agreed to let his doctors amputate his leg. The former forward never wavered; using the challenges he overcame throughout his basketball career as a guide to overcoming his health issues, while also relying on an internal optimism that he credits his parents for developing.
Tisdale now walks with a custom-made prosthesis for his leg. The acclimation process usually takes three to six months, but it only took the 6-9 Tisdale 30 days to adjust.
The entire ordeal has led Tisdale to help others that find themselves in the same situation as him. He has since started a foundation that raises funds to help amputees afford the prosthetic process, while also counseling others on fighting cancer or limb loss.
“You can never give up because quitting is not an option,” Tisdale told ESPN.com. “No matter how dark it is or how weak you get, until you take that last breath, you must fight.”
You can read more about Tisdale’s incredible story at ESPN.com.