Robert "Tractor" Traylor: The Life and Impact of a Great Michigan Wolverine

Joey HnathCorrespondent IMay 12, 2011

13 Dec 1997:  Center Robert Traylor of the Michigan Wolverines looks on during a game against the Duke Blue Devils at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won the game 81-73. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Stockman  /Allsport
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Growing up in a Michigan household, I've bled maize and blue from a very young age.

Needless to say, Michigan football is my passion. My first favorite Wolverine was Charles Woodson, and he was soon followed by the likes of Tom Brady, Chris Perry and Braylon Edwards.

For the most part, my father and I would watch Michigan football together, but there was one Michigan basketball season that sticks out in my mind.

The 1997-98 season had been my first taste of Michigan basketball, let alone college basketball as a whole.

That year, I learned from my dad that we were not fans of head coach Brian Ellerbe, but more importantly, that we were big fans of Robert “Tractor” Traylor.

Traylor was the best player for the Wolverines and helped lead the team to a Big Ten championship in his junior year.

I can still remember seeing that Big Ten championship game with my dad in the spring of 1998.  The game was against Gene Keady’s Purdue squad.

Right from the opening tip-off, the game was intense. I recall being on the edge of my seat throughout the entire game.

In the end, Robert Traylor would lead the Wolverines to a 76-67 win over the Boilermakers. Traylor ended with a double-double, scoring a game-high 24 points and snagging 13 rebounds en route to being name the tournament MVP.

When Traylor left Michigan and turned pro, he remained one of my favorite basketball players and I continued following his career.

Unfortunately, his career never really panned out and he left the league after just seven seasons.

In 2002, Traylor would be linked to infamous booster Ed Martin in the scandal that crippled the Michigan basketball program. Michigan would have to forfeit their 25 wins from the 1997-98 season and Traylor would have to give up his Big Ten tournament MVP.

When I heard about Traylor’s passing, my initial thoughts were of my dad and I watching him play in maize and blue.

While the record books no longer show Traylor’s impact on the Michigan basketball program, his final season in Ann Arbor has given me some fond memories of watching basketball with my father that can never be taken away.

Rest in peace, Robert Traylor.