Robert "Tractor" Traylor, known for his size during the short time he played in the NBA, was found dead in his apartment in Puerto Rico where he had been playing basketball, according to the Bayamon Vaqueros team site.
Calling him "the strength of the BayamĂłn Vaqueros," the team said Traylor had not been seen for a few days and so they went to his apartment, where he was found dead.
Traylor, 34, is presumed to have died of a heart attack, according to Bayamon Vaqueros. The star struggled due to his size - but also heart problems when he tried to make it in the NBA. He had a heart operation in 2005.
Traylor, who attended the University of Michigan, was taken by the Dallas Mavericks as the sixth pick in the NBA draft in 1998 but was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki. (Some Michigan fans in the 1990s might remember him for other reasons.)
The 300-plus pound center joked about his weight in an old SI.com story, but he also acknowledged how it had kept him from being the style of player he wanted - though he did often try conditioning methods to get him in better shape.
His coach at Michigan, current San Diego State Coach Steve Fisher, said Wednesday that Traylor was "one of my favorite people and players that I have ever had the privilege of getting to know."
"Robert was someone who could light up a room with his smile. He was a gentle person but as fierce a competitor as there was," Fisher said. "I am very saddened to hear of his sudden and tragic departure. Robert was one of my favorite people for all the right reasons."