Sixteen years ago, Robert Traylor was a McDonald's All-American with some of today's biggest names in the NBA: Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter.
Today, he was found dead in his oceanfront apartment in Puerto Rico, where he had been on the roster for the Bayamon Cowboys basketball team. Initial reports state that he died from an apparent heart attack.
Traylor has had a history of health issues dating back to his days with Michigan, where he used his size to help Michigan win the 1997 NIT title. He was named the tournament's MVP and was rewarded by the Dallas Mavericks, who selected him with the 6th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.
The Mavericks immediately shipped him out to Milwaukee for the #19 pick Pat Garrity and some German guy named Dirk Nowitzki.
Traylor managed to last seven seasons in the NBA on three different teams, averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.7 rpg over 438 games. However many will say he never lived up to the expectations of a #6 pick. I've actually considered making him an honorary member of my Sports Card Bust PC on several occasions, since technically he can't be a member because he wasn't a top 5 pick.
But today isn't the appropriate time to talk whether or not he was a draft bust... but rather it's a time to say goodbye and honor a player who was a big part of my collection back in the late 90's.
Here's a look at my rookie card collection of The Tractor:
And a couple of his late 90's inserts/parallels:
And finally two autographs from his rookie year:
Rest in peace Mr. Traylor. My thoughts go out to your wife and two children you are leaving behind, along with the rest of your family, friends, and fans. Sayonara!