Robert Traylor, former Michigan basketball player dead at 34
Robert "Tractor" Traylor died of apparent massive heart attack in Puerto Rico.
Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said in a statement he was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment. Police and Traylor's team, the Vaqueros de Bayamon, said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack. The Vaqueros said Traylor was rehabbing a heel injury and had not been playing. They suspended their game Wednesday night because of his death.
Traylor played for the University of Michigan from 1995 to 1998. Prior to that he played for Murray-Wright High School in Detroit.
He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He went on to play for seven years in the NBA for 4 teams (Milwaukee, Cleveland, Charlotte, and New Orleans). After his NBA career, Traylor played for teams in Turkey and Italy before playing in Puerto Rico.
The Detroit News quoted a former University of Michigan teammate of Traylor's, Willie Mitchell:
"I've known Robert since he was 14," Mitchell said. "He was a freak of nature. He was a bundle of joy to be around. Anytime he stepped into a room, he filled it with laughter. I just heard of his death. I knew he was playing in the Puerto Rican League and he was playing well. I hadn't talked to him in six months or so."
The team manager of Traylor's team in Puerto Rico told the Associated Press that "Traylor had been talking by phone to his wife in Chicago on Wednesday when the connection was suddenly cut off. She called team officials and they checked on him."
The manager said the fans in Puerto Rico idolized him.
Mike Prada of SBNation wrote about Traylor's challenges in the NBA:
Throughout his career, he battled weight problems and a heart ailment that required surgery in 2006. He never made it back to the NBA, thanks in part to NBA teams increasingly getting worried about heart issues in the wake of Atlanta's Jason Collier's death a year earlier, and Traylor instead played in Europe for several seasons.
Traylor's wins at the University of Michigan were wiped from official records after it was discovered that he was tied up in the Ed Martin booster scandal that led to severe sanctions for the University of Michigan's basketball team.
Here's a video of Traylor taking out a backboard during a University of Michigan game against Ball State: