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Tisdale Award an honor

4/12/2011

One of my favorite players to cover during my 30-plus years at ESPN and ABC was Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma.

He was a true superstar, as good as it gets as an athlete and a person. What I loved about him, whenever I spent any time with him, is that I would get a big bear hug. His smile would light up a room. Sadly, he lost his life so early, losing his battle against cancer. Tisdale was such a positive force on so many people, and a great role model for youngsters everywhere.

That is why it is such an honor to receive the first annual Tisdale Humanitarian Award. To have my name associated with someone for whom I have the ultimate respect - a dream student-athlete, a great person beyond the basketball court - is a great honor. I received the honor Monday night, and it was so emotional.

I was fortunate enough to receive humanitarian the award at the same time Jared Sullinger of Ohio State received the first Wayman Tisdale Award for the nation's best freshman basketball player. I could not think of a better young guy to receive that award, in the name of Wayman Tisdale. Wow!

Tisdale averaged a double-double during his three-year college career, averaging over 25 points and 10 boards per game. He then played 12 NBA seasons before his tragic passing.

Wayman represented all that is good in college athletics. He was classy in every way, and I know the University of Oklahoma was proud to say he was a member of their University. I am totally proud to have my name on a trophy emblematic of what he represented.

It was an incredible night in Oklahoma City as the people who put on the Tisdale award did a special job. It was off the charts, better than I anticipated. I have been to many banquets, and this was something else.

There were so many celebrities there. Tisdale's coach, Billy Tubbs; my ESPN colleague Fran Fraschilla did a great job as Master of Ceremonies; Eddie Sutton; Barry Switzer; Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione; singing sensation Toby Keith and his wife, Tricia; and members of the Tisdale family.

It was an awesome night. It was organized so well, and the video presentation on Tisdale's life brought so much emotion.

Nobody will match what he did in his three years with the Sooners. He brought great pride to that Oklahoma jersey.

He was a winner in sports and a winner in life, so this was so, so special. It was a day and night that I will always remember.