Tyrone Travis, who led Cambridge-South Dorchester High to the 1989 Class 2A state boys’ basketball championship and went on to star at Radford (Va.) University, died Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. He was 49.
According to The Roanoke Times, Travis, who had been fighting cancer in recent years, suffered a stroke on Dec. 30, 2020, and went into cardiac arrest Sunday at a Florida hospital.
“There’s an interesting article that I saw on the internet, Radford put something out, his teammates talked about (how) everybody on campus knew Ty,” said David Bromwell, superintendent of Dorchester County Schools, who coached Travis in football while at Cambridge-SD. “He went to the frat parties. Color wasn’t an issue. He went to (talk to) everybody.
“He was the same way in high school,” Bromwell continued. “He could talk to those kids that leaned up against that rail at CSD (football games on Friday nights) and talk with kids who were struggling in school or the community or whatever. But he could also go to Artie Renkwitz’s physics class and talk to all those kids. Everyone was like, ‘Hey, Ty. Hey, Tyrone.’ He crossed boundaries probably better, or as good, as any kid I’ve ever seen out at that high school, which was just impressive. He’s certainly going to be missed.”
Travis seemed to impress in just about anything he did. In his first varsity basketball game as a freshman, he scored 20 points as Cambridge-SD routed St. Michaels.
“If he keeps maturing, he’s going to be a whale of a ballplayer,” said then-Vikings head coach Grayson Hurley of Travis afterward.
Travis remained with the varsity, helping Cambridge-SD win the North Bayside titles in 1986 and ‘87, though the Vikings lost to Crisfield in the conference championship both years.
Cambridge-SD wouldn’t win the North the next two seasons. But in 1989, the Vikings routed James M. Bennett, 70-45, to win the Class 2A Region IV championship behind a 23-point performance from Travis.
Travis had 13 points as Cambridge-SD upset top-seeded Calvert, 55-47, in the state semifinals. The following day, the left-handed shooting senior had a game-high 31 points — including a 10-of-13 effort from the foul line — and snagged 16 rebounds as the Vikings defeated Hammond, 77-73, to win the 2A state championship at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House.
“He’s just an excellent ballplayer,” Hammond head coach Jack Burke Jr. said afterwards of Travis. “We watched him last night (during the semifinals) and we knew that if we didn’t control him we were not going to win. We didn’t and we lost.”
Travis also punted and played wide receiver for Cambridge-SD’s football team.
“I always worked with all the punters,” Bromwell said. “He had never kicked a football in his life, and he’s ranked as one of the best punters I think we ever had.
“I don’t know if you remember the picture of Ray Guy (the Hall of Fame punter) for the Oakland Raiders and the extension (he had with his leg when he punted),” Bromwell continued. “Tyrone looked exactly like him. And he never punted before. I mean you’re talking about just giving him a little bit of instruction about hand placement on the ball, how much turn you have to the ball, and where you punt it. And I never had to deal with him again.”
But it was basketball that Travis chose to pursue in college. In November 1988, the senior signed his national letter of intent to attend Radford.
The Highlanders went 7-22 during Travis’ freshman year. The following season, the 6-foot-7 forward/center helped Radford go 22-7, averaging 8.8 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. Travis missed the 1991-’92 season for academic reasons, but returned to help Radford go 16-5 during the ’92-’93 campaign.
With Travis averaging a team-high 16.4 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, the Highlanders went 20-8 his senior year. He blocked a then school single-season record 67 shots, which now ranks second in school history. An All-Big South Conference second-team selection his senior year, Travis still holds the school record for career blocked shots (215), and holds the school’s single-game record for blocked shots at seven. He also led Radford in rebounding in each of the four seasons he played.
Travis went on to work in education and with troubled juveniles in Florida after basketball.
He was inducted into Cambridge-SD’s athletic hall of fame in 2016.
“When he was inducted into the hall of fame, you’re talking about somebody who was true blue Dorchester County,” Bromwell said. “Even though he hadn’t been back here in years, he was so proud of that. He had his own Hall of Fame ring made for CSD. And he wore it at that induction ceremony. Tyrone had his own ring and you couldn’t get it off. He designed it himself. He was so proud of Dorchester County and CSD. It was cool. It was as big as a state championship ring.”