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Ohio Bobcats guard Tatum, responsible for most exciting shot in team history, died Tuesday

Robert Tatum, a member of the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame and responsible for one of the most clutch shots in team history, died Tuesday due to complications from a stroke.

Robert Tatum, a guard on the Ohio Bobcats men's basketball team from 1982-86 and a member of the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame, died Tuesday in Columbus due to complications following a stroke. He was 50.

Robert was well-known for a game-winning buzzer-beater he made against Illinois State in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. The play is arguably the most exciting in Ohio Athletics history and was considered one of the 25 most important on-air moments in ESPN’s first 25 years, according to a Chicago Tribune article from 2004.

Fran Fraschilla, an ESPN college basketball analyst and an assistant coach at OU from 1981 to 1987, tweeted the news of Tatum's death just after 3:40 p.m. Tuesday.

“He was always the type of person that it wasn’t about him first,” his brother Frankie Tatum said. “He always wanted to play jokes on folks; he is going to be highly missed.”

Frankie, who played football for Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, added that he and Robert would always call one another after their games. Robert shared his emotions with Frankie following the game-winner against Illinois State.

“Robert was so ecstatic, he said he knew right away when he released the ball that it was going to go in because he said he felt like he had a nice angle,” he said. “I remember I said ‘Man, you didn’t know you were going to make that shot. That was a lucky shot.’ And he would say ‘Frank, I knew when it left my hands it was going in. I knew it was money.’ He always said ‘I knew it was money as soon as it left my hands.’”

Frankie and Paul Baron, who spent four years alongside Robert as a guard on the Bobcats and is a fellow member of the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame, both said he was good enough to play in the NBA. Frankie said Robert got a shot to try out for the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls following his career at OU, but it did not work out.

“Robert should’ve been in the NBA. He was that good. I played with Kenny Smith (drafted No. 6 overall by the Sacramento Kings in 1987) in high school, and Robert was better,” Baron said, adding that he was roommates with Robert for three years and that “I was salt, he was pepper.”

Robert went into the banking industry after his basketball career and had worked for the former Banc One of Ohio, Frankie said. Although he did not marry, he is survived by his twin children.

“A friend told me he’s a point guard on God’s team now,” Frankie said.

Funeral services for Robert will be held at Christian Valley Baptist Church at 850 Studer Ave. in Columbus on Saturday. The services will start at 10 a.m.


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