Jack Twyman, R. I. P.
In my mind, Jack Twyman, epitomized what I would call a great human being, with the emphasis on ‘human.’
Jack Twyman died at the age of 78 last Friday, 1 Jun. You are excused if you are not familiar with the name Jack Twyman. I, being a basketball junkie, have been familiar with the story for over 50 years. This link will tell part of the story.
I will add what I can recall with the help of Terry Pluto’s 1992 book Tall Tales.
Back in the 1950s, professional basketball players were paid so little that they needed a job in the off-season. The era of multi-year contracts was in the future.
Maurice Stokes played basketball for the Rochester Royals in the NBA. One of his team mates was Jack Twyman. Maurice’s state of residence was Pennsylvania, where he also attended college.
Near the end of the last regular season game in 1958, Maurice fell and was knocked unconscious when he hit the floor. Smelling salts revived him and medicine being what it was back then, no one thought any more about it.
Three days later, after the first playoff game in Detroit, the symptoms of the brain damage first appeared when their flight reached altitude. A ambulance was waiting at the Cincinnati airport which took him to the hospital.
The motor skills part of Maurice’s brain were gone. He was paralyzed from the neck down.
Maurice’s parents could not take care of him because they both had jobs in Pennsylvania. And while Maurice stayed in Ohio, he was eligible for workman’s comp.
Long story short – Jack Twyman petitioned the court and was granted legal guardianship of Maurice Stokes and looked after him until he passed away in 1970.
BTW, I did not think it necessary to say that Maurice was black and Jack was white.
Update: Another tribute to Jack.