That's where Twyman stepped in.
He was one of the few Royals who lived in Cincinnati during the offseason. His teammate was confined to a hospital bed — scared, all alone, with bills to pay and no way to do it.
"How would you like to be one of the premier athletes in the world on a Saturday?" Twyman once said. "Then, on Sunday, you go into a coma and wake up, totally paralyzed, except for the use of (your) eyes and brain. I mean, can you imagine anything worse?"
Twyman took over as Stokes' legal guardian, organized what became an annual exhibition game to raise money, and made sure his buddy was cared for the rest of his all-too-short life. That Twyman was white and Stokes was black made no difference, even during an era when race relations had become the nation's defining struggle.
"To do what he did in the late '50s when, frankly, racial relationships were what they were, it wasn't a normal thing to do — a white man to basically adopt and become the legal guardian for Maurice," said Doleva, who oversees the hall where both men are rightfully enshrined. "It's an extraordinary story, but it speaks to his heart. Jack left his heart on the basketball court every time he played, but he had a much bigger heart when it came to his teammates."
Physically, Stokes never came close to being the man he once was. Mentally, he was stronger than ever, never feeling sorry for himself, never griping "Why me?" His heart finally gave out in 1970. He was just 36, having never realized anything close to his potential as a player, but having lived a full life as a man.
Later, when explaining why he did what he did, Twyman said simply, "That's what friends are for." Besides, he always felt he and his family got far more out of his relationship with Stokes than they ever gave back.
"He taught us a lot. We learned a lot from him," Twyman said in the documentary. "We're honored to have had the opportunity to be associated with him."
Right back at you, Jack Twyman.
The human race was honored to have been associated with you.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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