Robert Traylor was found dead on Wednesday in Puerto Rico, a sad ending for the 34-year-old bruising big man who spent two separate seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Traylor last played his last regular season games in the NBA with the Cavs during the 2004-05 season after becoming the sixth overall pick out of Michigan in the 1999 NBA Draft.
Most Cleveland die-hards will also remember the addition of "Tractor" Traylor to the 2008 NBA Summer League roster, however, a sign some believed could lead to an NBA comeback considering he was just 31 at the time and had reportedly been in nearly the best shape of his life (despite undergoing heart surgery in 2006).
With the Cavs that Summer, Traylor averaged 5.3 points and 5.0 rebounds while playing less than 15 minutes per game on a roster that also included a rookie J.J. Hickson. His performance wasn't enough to get him back on an NBA roster, but in an interview with Wendell Maxey, the veteran big man seemed to be doing it for all of the right reasons.
"It's hard having your career ended by an injury," Traylor said. "And now I have a son (Robert Traylor Jr.) who is four-years-old and I'd love to let him see me play in the NBA."
Traylor Jr. was never able to see his father play in the NBA, but Traylor Sr. did continue to work toward reachieving his dream despite the odds being stacked against him as he played in Turkey, Italy's top league and Mexico before finding himself with Vaqueros de Bayamon in Puerto Rico this season.
In 10 games with the team, his last being April 26 before being deactived due to a foot injury, Traylor was averaging 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes per game.
It's difficult to see anybody pass away during what should be the prime of their life, but it's especially hard knowing Traylor passed away so young considering the hardships he'd gone through and the NBA fan-favorite he once was.