Robert "Tractor" Traylor Found Dead
- 5/11/2011, Detroit Free Press
Former Michigan and NBA player Robert (Tractor) Traylor has died. He was 34.
Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said in a released statement he was found dead today on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment. Police and the Bayamon Cowboys basketball team said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack
The Cowboys said Traylor was injured and had not been playing. They suspended their game tonight because of his death.
"We are saddened to hear about the loss of a former student-athlete, Robert Traylor," U-M athletic director Dave Brandon said in a released statement. "Our sympathies go out to his family during this difficult time."
While at Detroit Murray-Wright in 1995, Traylor was named the winner of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award as the best high school player in the state.
The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Traylor was one of several star U-M players, including Chris Webber and Maurice Taylor, given large sums of money by booster Ed Martin. The scandal cost coach Steve Fisher his job and saddled the program with crippling major violations.
He was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the sixth pick in 1998 but was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a deal for Dirk Nowitzki. He spent seven years in the NBA, also playing for Cleveland, Charlotte and New Orleans.
Traylor had surgery on his aorta in 2006 and subsequently left the NBA.
He later served time for tax troubles. A judge had delayed his sentence so Traylor could play for an Italian team.
Bayamon Cowboys manager Jose Carlos Perez told the Associated Press that Traylor had been talking by phone to his wife in Chicago today when the connection was suddenly cut off. She called team officials, and they checked on him, Perez said.
“He was a leader of the team,” he said. “He was very, very friendly. He got along very well with everyone. The fans loved him, idolized him.”
Traylor had been playing with a team in Veracruz, Mexico, before he moved to Puerto Rico in mid-March, Perez said.
“His game was one of a lot of strength, a lot of defense,” he said.
Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean, a former Michigan State assistant, tweeted fond remembrances of Traylor today:
"Sad, sad news to hear about Robert Traylor. I had followed him since the 9th grade and recruited him while at Pittsburgh. At Michigan State we battled against him and he might have been the most time consuming and mind challenging matchup we ever faced and we as coaches weren't even playing. He had great feet and hands and a very soft touch.
"All in all with Robert, I won't remember the scrutiny and clouds of controversy he dealt with as a player or the trade for Dirk. I won't remember how long he played or mistakes he made. I will remember the aura around him and how kids looked up to him."
Perez said Traylor’s survivors include his wife and two sons