He’s known as “The Ultimate” on WWLS, The Sports Animal. Jim Traber has an opinion on everything and loves to tell everyone about it. However, it all almost came to an abrupt end for Traber, who was diagnosed with brain cancer.
When he’s on air, he’s brash, opinionated and unapologetic.
Traber said, “I love doing radio. I give my opinion. Some people don’t like my opinion, but some people don’t like hearing the truth as far as I’m concerned.”
The former professional baseball player has been spouting his thoughts for more than 20 years to sports fans, but in a blink of an eye life drastically changed. Traber thought he was silenced for good.
Memorial Day weekend, Traber was at WinStar Casino playing in a poker tournament.
Traber said, “I was playing, and things were going well, and all of the sudden I could not see out of my right eye.”
He added, “Then the next thing you know, I passed out, and I really don’t remember anything after that. I guess they worked on me and everyone thought I had a heart attack or something.”
Julie, Traber’s wife, said, “I just got a phone call from somebody at WinStar that said Jim either had a heart attack or stroke. He’s not conscious and it doesn’t look good.”
Doctors at Mercy Hospital first told the couple Traber had a cancerous brain tumor.
When asked if he was fearful that he might not be able to work again, Traber said, “Oh yeah. No doubt about it. When I heard about the tumor, the first thing I thought is ‘My God, I’m done.’ In the beginning I thought ‘I’m really done.’ I thought I was done for life. You know I thought I was going to die.”
He added, “It looked as though I had cancer really bad. It turns out it was a tumor in a really good spot if you’re going to have a tumor.”
Traber’s seizure revealed a non-cancerous tumor between the skull and the brain. Doctors removed the tumor and two days later Traber was out of the hospital. His prognosis is good. He was off the radio for weeks but had some humbling recovery steps.
Traber said, “My bulldog got away and I ran after hell and I fell down when I ran. I fell down face first. When I was in the grass, some guy was walking down the street. He goes ‘Are you okay?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I just had brain surgery.’ He said, ‘You’re Jim Traber.’ I said, ‘Dude can you help me in the house?’”
The health scare has given Traber a new appreciation.
He said, “I got an incredible family and an incredible wife. We’ve been married 23 years. I thought there would be a bunch of people happy if I am gone, and there might be, but I think there were a lot of people that were concerned and that made me feel good.”
When asked if she could change Traber, Julie said, “Probably not because if you did, it would take away who he is. I like that about him, but I do wish I had a mute button sometimes. I would like that if we are wishing.”
Traber is on the mend and back on the radio. He still has not been released to drive. Julie has to drive him everywhere, but Traber said he will be back in the driver’s seat next month.