Wayman Lawrence Tisdale, an R&B bass guitarist and 6′ 9″ professional basketball player, was born on June 9, 1964, in Fort Worth, Texas, the youngest of six children to minister Louis Tisdale and Deborah “Momma Tiz” Mathias Tisdale. He was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, however, where he began playing the guitar in his father’s church.
Tisdale graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1982, where he was a standout athlete who received numerous scholarship offers. Following that, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, where he was named a first-team All-American three times while averaging 25.6 points and over 10 rebounds per game, becoming the first college player to do so in his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. While Tisdale was a three-time All-American at Oklahoma, he was also a talented and well-known musician on stage. He would even bring his guitar on basketball tours.
Tisdale was a member of the United States Olympic team in Los Angeles, California, in 1984, and helped the team win a gold medal. He was drafted as the second overall pick by the Indiana Pacers during his junior year in 1985, and as a rookie, he averaged 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He remained with the team until 1989.
Tisdale was a member of the Sacramento Kings from 1989 to 1994 and the Phoenix Suns from 1994 to 1997. However, with the release of his debut album, Power Forward, in 1995, he began his professional recording career as a musician. Even though he continued to play professional basketball, it peaked at number four on the Billboard jazz chart. He wrote “Payday” for The Winans gospel group, which reached number 74 on Billboard’s R&B chart. Tisdale ended his 12-year basketball career in 1997. Despite averaging more than 15 points and six rebounds per game per season, he has now dedicated his time to developing his music career full-time.
Tisdale received the Legacy Tribute Award from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also nominated for “Outstanding Jazz Artist” by the NAACP at the 2004 Image Awards. Tisdale’s album Way Up was released by Rendezvous Entertainment’s label two years later, in 2006. It debuted at number 116 on the Billboard 200 album chart. This album gave him the opportunity to work with jazz legends such as Koz, Eric Benet, George Duke, Bob James, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler, and Jeff Lorber. He returned to the studio in 2008 and released the collection Rebound, which peaked at number 121. Tisdale recorded nine albums as a bassist in total, and he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Wayman Lawrence Tisdale died on May 15, 2009, at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, of a ruptured esophagus. He was 44.