Former Phoenix Suns player Wayman Tisdale dies at 44

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Wayman Tisdale

Former Phoenix Sun Tisdale dies after cancer battle - Former Phoenix Suns player Wayman Tisdale died Friday after fighting cancer for the past two years.

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TULSA, Okla. -- Former Phoenix Suns player Wayman Tisdale died Friday at age 44 after fighting cancer the past two years.

Tisdale died Friday morning at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla., hospital spokeswoman Joy McGill said.

Tisdale first learned he had a cancerous cyst below his right knee after he broke his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles in 2007. His leg was amputated last August, but he had made several public appearances since.

The 6-foot-9 forward from Tulsa was a three-time All-American for Oklahoma.

"I don't know of any athlete at Oklahoma or any place else who was more loved by the fans who knew him than Wayman Tisdale," said Billy Tubbs, who coached Tisdale with the Sooners. "He was obviously, a great, great player, but Wayman as a person overshadowed that. He just lit up a room and was so positive."

He won a gold medal as a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team.

"Wayman was kind of a catalyst for people accepting roles," said C.M. Newton, the manager of the '84 team and now chairman of the NIT selection committee. "Michael was the leader of the team but Wayman was special in that way. He had a great work ethic. He loved to play and was just fun to be around."

Tisdale spent 12 seasons in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Suns. He played for the Suns from 1994 to 1997.

After basketball, he became an award-winning jazz musician, with several albums making the top 10 on the Billboard charts.

As a musician, Tisdale recorded eight albums. A bass guitarist who often wrote his own material, his most recent album, "Rebound," was inspired by his fight with cancer and included guest appearances by several artists, including saxophonist Dave Koz and country star and fellow Oklahoma native Toby Keith.

His "Way Up!" release debuted in July 2006 and spent four weeks as the No. 1 contemporary jazz album. His hits included "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," "Can't Hide Love" and "Don't Take Your Love Away."

Last month, Tisdale was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tisdale is survived by his wife, Regina, and four children.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)