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Friday, May 22, 2009

Thousands mourn Tisdale

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— With his casket carried in a horse-drawn carriage, Wayman Tisdale was remembered Thursday as a basketball star and gifted musician by thousands of mourners swaying to gospel tunes.

The body of the former Oklahoma All-American traveled three miles from the funeral home to the downtown arena.

About 4,000 people, including former NBA players, pop musicians and former coaches, attended the memorial. There was live jazz music, clapping and shouting in honor of the man who died last week at 44 after a long battle with cancer.

“Wayman lived a blessed life,” said Billy Tubbs, Tisdale’s former Oklahoma coach. “He did more in his 44 years than most people can do in 88 years.”

Pallbearers stepped to the beat of jazz music played on stage by Tisdale’s band. Leading the pallbearers was a man wearing white gloves and holding a basketball above his head as he marched to the stage in step with the music. He placed the ball on a stand on the stage, and the casket followed.

Tisdale, a 6-foot-9 forward, played 12 seasons in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. Former NBA players Charles Smith, Rory Sparrow and John Starks paid tribute Thursday.

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