A Real Role Model In A Time When Role Models Are Extinct

You probably heard it.  Most people did.  It is on all the major news networks.

A professional athlete is in trouble.  Again. It’s not his first time.  And by his attitude…you can tell it won’t be his last.

During an interview, he is asked a very important question, “A lot of people and kids look up to you as a role model – what do you have to say to them?”  His reply is prophetic of things to come.  He says he isn’t a role model to anyone and never wanted to be.  He is a professional athlete and that’s it.

Many athletes blatantly disregard any responsibility to the children who look up to them.

Somehow, it’s become cool to be a “gangster.”  NFL players go to jail for shooting themselves in the leg at a nightclub or for brutally torturing dogs. This phenomenon is not unique to sports.

Not too long ago, being good was rewarded.  Now, being a bad person made you a star.  A complete nobody could go on a reality show and act like a lying, cheating, unethical jerk – and be rewarded with celebrity status, a great career and a ton of money.

Not too long ago, having a pornographic tape surface would end a great career…now it makes an unheard of spoiled brat an overnight star.

But even during the darkest night – there is a shining star.

You may or may not have heard of this shining star… but his name was Wayman Tisdale.  And his story is truly amazing…

Wayman was one of the best basketball players to ever play at the University of Oklahoma or the NBA.  He is one of only 10 players to be a 3-time All-American in college.  He likely would have been a 4-time All-American if he did not skip his senior year to go into the NBA.  He won a gold medal representing the United States in 1984 and then played 12 years in the NBA.

But being one of the best basketball players in the world wasn’t Wayman’s best quality.  It was the way he carried himself and lived his life.

Here’s what the Phoenix Sun’s Chairman, Jerry Colangelo, had to say about Wayman, “You never had to worry about Wayman Tisdale.  He was a gentleman and he represented himself the way you’d want all your players to represent a franchise.”

Wayman was known as an amazing, approachable superstar who always had time for his fans.

Everyone who met Wayman always commented on his incredible smile and how he went out of his way to help even complete strangers.

Above all, Wayman was a devoted family man whose relationships were unshaken by money and fame.

But even more impressive than all this was how Wayman handled adversity.

On February 8, 2007, Wayman fell in his house and broke his leg.  But, the break revealed something much more serious.

Wayman had a cancerous cyst below his right knee and most of his leg had to be amputated. His response to cancer and losing his leg?

“Nothing can change me.  You go through things. You don’t change because things come in your life. You get better because things come in your life.”

Wayman didn’t worry about himself.  Instead, he started the Wayman Tisdale Foundation to assist individuals in need of prosthetic limbs who cannot afford them.

He also became a professional jazz musician and created chart topping hits.

But the cancer spread and Wayman passed away on May 15, 2009, after a two-year battle with the disease.  He was only 44 years old.  Even in his darkest hour, Wayman uplifted others and flashed his incredible smile.  Maybe true role models aren’t extinct after all.

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