The passing of Jack Twyman was indeed a loss for the University of Cincinnati and he will long be remembered for contributing to the success of its basketball and athletic programs. But by now you know he is being remembered, revered and celebrated for the humanitarian that he was and rightfully so.
I was fortunate to meet him in the 70's when I coached a basketball team in a city league and we played against a team on which his son played. He was there not as an NBA player but a dad rooting on his son and their team. I nervously but with some confidence walked up to him and said hello after the game and he was very gracious. It was the classic brush with a star but left the right and lasting impression on me.
It wasn't until later in life I knew and truly understood what he did by becoming the legal guardian for fellow teammate Maurice Stokes that elevated my respect for him. Not just that he did it but, at the age he made this life changing decision; 23 years old and in the prime of your life as a young man. I can't think of many, if any, who would give up that prime time in their life to the degree that Jack did. Those kind of friends are rare and as Jesse Jackson said should be the basis for an award that epitomizes those qualities in an athlete who understands there is more to life than the game; Jack wasn't just a ball player, he was a humanitarian. He was a giver; unselfish, caring, compassionate and kind. Not perfect mind you, as none of us are, but a step above most absolutely.
Years later we conversed again and this time for quite a while. He was a guest on my radio show thanks to his son in law, Josh, who I worked with at that time. We not only talked about the NBA and Maurice Stokes but also his comparison to a similar physically and talented player named LeBron James. We talked a little about life and it was just as enjoyable as I thought it would be. It was filled with candor, laughter and a joy that makes you glad you had the chance to interview such a special person.
With his passing I found myself, as I'm sure many of you have, asking that hard question: Could I have done the same thing, at the same age with the same set of circumstances including giving up the prime of my life to take full custody of a friend who needed around the clock care? I want to say yes and I want to say I'd do it now if I had to.
We don't have to ask WWJD. We don't have to ask what would Jack do either.
That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.