Former Michigan, NBA player Robert “Tractor” Traylor found dead at 34

Neal J Leitereg's picture

Robert “Tractor” Traylor, the bruising power forward who starred at the University of Michigan and played seven seasons in the NBA, was found dead on Wednesday, May 11. Traylor was 34 years old.

Traylor, who had been playing for the Vaqueros de Bayamón (Bayamon Cowboys) of Puerto Rico's BSN League, was found dead in his apartment apparently as a result of a massive heart attack, according to a post on the team's official Facebook page and

The former Michigan Wolverine and NBA player was reported missing for the last couple of days before being discovered by a teammate.

A translation of the Vaqueros de Bayamón Facebook page read:

"The center of the Bayamon Cowboys, Robert "Tractor" Traylor, was found dead in his apartment in Isla Verde. The game tonight between Mayaguez and the Cowboys was suspended ....."

A McDonald's All-American, Taylor helped lead the Michigan Wolverines to the National Invitation Tournament title game in 1997, averaging 16.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg as a junior before leaving school for the NBA.

The 6-foot-8, 285-pound Traylor was made the 6th-overall draft pick in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks, who promptly shipped him to the Milwaukee Bucks for Pat Garrity and the rights to the 9th-overall pick, German prospect Dirk Nowitzki.

At the time, the Bucks believed Traylor would be the team's anchor in the middle for years to come; however, Traylor achieved only marginal success during his time with the team before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2000 as part of a 3-team deal with the Golden State Warriors.

Traylor would be traded again twice the following year, once to the Philadelphia 76ers and later to the Charlotte Hornets in another 3-team trade.

Following the 2004-05 season, Traylor, who battled weight issues through much of his career, had surgery on his aorta. He signed a one-year contract to play for the New Jersey Nets for the 2005-06 season, but his contract with the team was voided after he failed a physical examination.

In all, Traylor's NBA career lasted seven seasons with five different teams. In 438 career games, he averaged 4.8 ppg and 3.7 rpg.

Following the 2004-05 season with the Cavaliers, Tractor Traylor popped up in numerous International basketball circuits, including stints with the Santurce Crabbers of the BSN League, Kepez Belediyespor of the Turkish Basketball League, Nuova sebastian Basket of the Italian League and most recently with the Bayamon Cowboys, where he was selected as the BSN's Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

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