Ex-NBA star Jack Twyman, guardian to paralyzed teammate
By LISA CORNWELL May 31, 2012 11:22AM
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 1962 file photo, Jack Twyman, right, holds the trophies he and Maurice Stokes received from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association designating them as the "Most Courageous Athletes" in Stokes' hospital room in Cincinnati, Ohio. Twyman, a Basketball Hall of Famer, has died at 78. He was one of the NBA's top scorers in the 1950s who became the guardian to paralyzed teammate, Stokes. Jay Twyman, of Rye, N.Y., said Thursday, May 31, 2012 that his father died Wednesday, May 30 at a Cincinnati hospice of complications from an aggressive form of blood cancer. Jack Twyman played for the University of Cincinnati and spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals. (AP Photo)
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:46AM
CINCINNATI — Basketball Hall of Famer Jack Twyman, one of the NBA’s top scorers in the 1950s who became the guardian to a paralyzed teammate, has died. He was 78.
Mr. Twyman died Wednesday at a Cincinnati hospice of complications from an aggressive form of blood cancer, his son, Jay Twyman said Thursday.
“He died peacefully with family members at his side,” said Twyman, of Rye, N.Y.
Jack Twyman played for the University of Cincinnati and spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals.
He averaged a career-high 31.2 points per game in the 1959-60 season, playing in six All-Star games.
In 1958, after teammate Maurice Stokes was left paralyzed after a head injury suffered during a game, Mr. Twyman became his guardian to help Stokes receive medical benefits.
Mr. Twyman later worked as a television analyst on NBA games.
Mr. Twyman scored 15,840 points in his career and was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.
He also left his mark on the NBA for the way he helped Stokes, who was a budding star in 1958. During the last game of that season, Stokes hit his head on the floor during a game. He later had a seizure, slipped into a coma and was left paralyzed.
In addition to becoming Stokes’ guardian, Mr. Twyman organized an exhibition game with NBA players to raise money for Stokes. That game became an annual tradition to raise money for needy former players.
“He was a great man, a devoted husband and father and a tremendous grandfather,” Jay Twyman said.
“What he accomplished in his lifetime was really the equivalent of three lifetimes,” said Twyman, referring to his father’s success in basketball and business and his devotion to Stokes and other friends and family members.
Jack Twyman’s daughter, Lisa Bessone of Santa Fe, N.M., described her father as someone who was “larger than life and who always gave 110 percent to everything he did.”
“He believed every day was a gift, and that’s how he approached his life,” Bessone said. AP