“We are saddened to hear about the loss of a former student-athlete, Robert Traylor,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. “Our sympathies go out to his family during this difficult time.”
Although he was productive on the court, Traylor was one of the Michigan players whose ties to booster Ed Martin resulted in NCAA sanctions against the basketball program.
He turned pro after his junior year, averaging 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 438 NBA games.
Traylor had surgery on his aorta in 2005, the Bayamon Cowboys said.
The team suspended its game Wednesday night because of his death.
“His game was one of a lot of strength, a lot of defense,” he said.
Indiana coach Tom Crean, a former assistant at Michigan State, echoed those sentiments in a post on Twitter.
“At Michigan State we battled against him and he might have been the most time-consuming and mind-challenging matchup we ever faced and we as coaches weren’t even playing. He had great feet and hands and a very soft touch…You really had to have a plan to stop him.”
In 2009, Traylor was sentenced to jail after violating conditions of supervised release related to an income-tax case in which he acknowledged preparing a false tax return that hid assets of a convicted drug dealer.
A judge had delayed the sentence so Traylor could play for an Italian team.
“He was a gentle giant,” Fishman told the AP on Wednesday. “There were two things about him that really stood out from other athletes of this day and age: He never complained and always took responsibility for anything he ever did.”
Fishman downplayed Traylor’s size, saying the former NBA player was “just a huge person.”
“If he starved himself in the Gobi Desert, he would still weigh 270 pounds,” Fishman said.