Skip to content

Jamari Traylor: From homeless to playing for Kansas

Dec 24, 2012, 3:46 PM EST

Jamari Traylor, Derrick Nix, Denzel Valentine AP

Jamari Traylor has had a tough time breaking into the Kansas rotation this season.

That’s what happens when you’re a freshman on a team that includes the likes of Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore. At Kansas, you wait your turn, and success will eventually find you.

And while he may only be averaging 2.7 points and 2.9 boards for the Jayhawks, Traylor has, without a doubt, the most heart-warming story of anyone on the Kansas roster.

When he was a freshman in high school, Traylor’s father disappeared. It wasn’t until months later than he found out his dad was in prison with a life sentence for trafficking cocaine. Traylor was devastated by the news and eventually spent a year on the streets, living in boarded up cars and burnt out buildings.

Basketball pulled him out of it. And Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal has the story.

Here’s an excerpt from the story (I’m not going to pull too much, because it really deserves a read):

With nowhere else to go, Traylor started walking. He’d been living like this for a while, ever since he found out his dad was in prison. At first, no one knew what had happened to Jessie Traylor. Jamari remembers calling his phone every day for months, thinking this would be the time he heard his father’s voice on the other end. He started to fear the worst.

I know where he is, Traylor’s mother said one day. Jessie Traylor was in prison, arrested in connection with a drug trafficking ring. So began the spiral — the arguments, the bad grades, skipping school — that led Jamari to move out of his house and start living on the street. This is how a rusted-out Buick sitting outside a car wash became Traylor’s only refuge.

Traylor wedged his hand inside and forced the window down. He crawled inside, wondering what would happen if the Buick became his coffin.

“I just remember thinking, ‘If I die right now, if someone came and just killed me, would anybody even care? Would anybody know?’” Traylor said. “It felt like nobody cared about me at all and nobody would even know.

“That’s like the worst feeling, knowing you’re irrelevant to anybody.”

When you combine this story with the fact that Traylor is the guy that did this, I think I can go ahead and slide this kid into my top five favorite players list.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Pregame Shootaround: A tremendous day of hoops filled with intriguing top-25 battles

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    If you don’t feel like watching lower-tier bowl games, you’ll be happy to know that Saturday is loaded with great games.

  2. Eastern Kentucky’s 3-point shooting leads to blowout win over No. 18 Miami

    Dec 19, 2014, 10:13 PM EST

    AP AP

    Eastern Kentucky had 14 threes. Miami had 12 field goals.

  3. adidas puts wrong logo on Duje Dukan’s Wisconsin warmups (PHOTO)

    Dec 19, 2014, 8:59 PM EST

    Duje Dukan AP

    The senior forward is apparently playing for the Wisconsin Bearcats.

  4. New Year’s Resolutions: Villanova Wildcats

    Dec 19, 2014, 7:30 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Villanova is off to another good start in the regular season, but heading into the New Year, the Wildcats will need to rack up the wins in postseason play.

  5. Markus Kennedy cleared to play immediately for SMU

    Dec 19, 2014, 6:49 PM EST

    AP AP

    The SMU forward missed the first 10 games.

  6. Two players questionable for Florida’s game against Wake Forest

    Dec 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    AP AP

    The Gators could be shorthanded once again in Saturday’s non-conference contest with Wake Forest.

  7. Injured Indiana forward to return to school this spring

    Dec 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    Landon Atterberry Devin Davis AP

    The Indiana sophomore was struck by a vehicle driven by a teammate back in November.

  8. FGCU announces addition of former VCU power forward

    Dec 19, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

    VCU v George Washington Getty Images

    Antravious Simmons averaged 0.7 points and 0.7 rebounds as a redshirt freshman at VCU.

  9. Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: No. 3 Arizona among three ranked teams in action

    Dec 19, 2014, 3:27 PM EST

    Stanley Johnson AP

    The Wildcats are on the road to take on one of Conference USA’s best teams in UTEP, and both No. 18 Miami and No. 20 St. John’s are in action as well.

  10. Injured senior guard leaves St. Bonaventure program

    Dec 19, 2014, 2:44 PM EST

    La Salle Explorers v St. Bonaventure Bonnies Getty Images

    Jordan Gathers had yet to play in a game this season after undergoing hip surgery in June.

  11. One suitor for Duke transfer hopes to land him despite not having an available scholarship

    Dec 19, 2014, 1:26 PM EST

    Livingstone v Duke Getty Images

    Kansas State is one of many programs looking to land Semi Ojeleye, but all of their scholarships are accounted for currently.

  12. POSTERIZED: UNLV commit Derrick Jones throws one down with force (VIDEO)

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:04 PM EST

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Jones’ dunk on five-star forward Cody Riley is one of the best you’ll see this year.

  13. New Year’s Resolutions: Duke Blue Devils

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:30 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    When you talk Duke basketball in 2014-15, you start with Player of the Year candidate Jahlil Okafor, but there are plenty of other keys to Duke’s success as we get closer to the new year.

  14. Weekend Preview: A loaded Saturday slate highlights the weekend

    Dec 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Dakarai Allen, Nigel Williams-Goss AP

    Oklahoma-Washington, Ohio State-North Carolina and UCLA-Kentucky are just three of the marquee matchups.

  15. Rebounding, foul shooting help No. 2 Duke make up for 19 turnovers in win over UConn

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:41 AM EST

    Mike Krzyzewski Mike Krzyzewski

    Even with the win there are things Duke needs to improve upon, most notably the fact that they’ve committed 36 turnovers over the last two games.

  16. Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Duke, No. 6 Virginia move to 10-0

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Ryan Boatright, Tyus Jones Ryan Boatright, Tyus Jones

    Also of note was Ole Miss avoiding what would have been their fourth home loss of the season.

  17. Right foot injury to sideline Tennessee forward for at least one game

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:44 PM EST

    Steve Taylor Jr., Kevin Punter, Jabari McGhee AP

    Jabari McGhee suffered the injury in Tennessee’s loss to NC State on Wednesday.