Michigan's Robert Traylor showered by glass from the backboard he shattered while slam dunking in the first half against Ball State, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Nov. 26, 1996. (Photo: AP Photo/Tom Pidgeon)
Robert “Tractor” Traylor, former NBA player and Michigan center, was found dead Wednesday. He was 34.
The official cause of death is still not known, but the belief is Traylor died of a heart attack while in his San Juan, Puerto Rico, ocean apartment. He was found lying on the floor of his bedroom once his wife in Chicago became alarmed when their telephone conversation was abruptly cut off and she was unable to get Traylor back on the phone.
This is particularly sad because of Traylor’s young age and because those who encountered him over the years usually walked away realizing how genuine of human being he was. Most referred to Traylor as a gentle giant.
Traylor, who was playing with the Bayamon Cowboys in San Juan, spent seven years in the NBA. He is best known as the hustling big man for the Michigan Wolverines from 1995-98. Traylor’s Michigan career, however, was marred by controversy after it was found he accepted impermissible gifts from a booster.
Still Traylor was drafted in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks in 1998 before immediately being shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks. After spending two seasons in Milwaukee, Traylor also made stops in Cleveland, Charlotte and New Orleans before his NBA career fizzled.