Former NBA player Robert “Tractor” Traylor was found dead in his apartment on Wednesday in Isla Verde, 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 Bayamon Cowboys, said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack.
Cowboys team manager Jose Carlos Perez told The Associated Press that Traylor had been talking by phone to his wife in Chicago when the connection was suddenly cut off. She called team officials Wednesday and they checked on him, Perez said.
The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Traylor was injured and had not been playing, the team said. Traylor was drafted by the Mavericks with the sixth pick in 1998, but they traded his rights to Milwaukee in a major deal that sent Dirk Nowitzki(notes) to Dallas. Traylor played for the Bucks in the first two seasons of a seven-year NBA career that included stops in Cleveland, Charlotte and New Orleans.
“The entire Milwaukee Bucks organization is saddened by the news of Robert Traylor’s death,” the Bucks said in a statement. “Robert was a fierce competitor on the court who helped the Bucks reach the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Milwaukee.
“Off the court he was a gentle giant, displaying his smile and care, especially toward young people through his involvement in school visits and his work with the Special Olympics clinic.”
He got his “Tractor” nickname in high school for his girth, and although he eventually became a lottery pick, he is best known for an eventful stint at Michigan that took place shortly after the departures of Fab Five stars Chris Webber, Juwan Howard (notes) and Jalen Rose.