Traci Abbott returned to Genoa City from boarding school 1982. She had little confidence in herself, a feeling only compounded by being overweight and the attention given to her beautiful older sister Ashley.
Traci befriended rock singer Danny Romalotti that summer, and became President of his fan club. She decided she cared too much about him to go away to college, so enrolled at Genoa City University. When Danny invited her to join him on stage for the final number at his concert, she was a big success. But their after-concert celebration plans were ruined when Danny didn't show up for the party because he had taken Patty Williams to the doctor. A hurt Traci wasn't interested in his apologies. As if that wasn't stressful enough, her mother, Dina, returned to town the first time since leaving them when they were children.
Traci continued to have romantic feelings for Danny, who was being pursued by the wily, seductive Lauren Fenmore. Both girls sang with Danny's band and constantly clashed over who would be chosen to sing with him. Traci went on a strict diet to lose weight to gain Danny's attention, but Lauren took every opportunity to humiliate Traci or point out her weight. This began a rivalry which would involve slipped “mickeys”, a banana split poured on Lauren's head, with a lifespan far longer than their relationship with Danny.
Traci turned to pills supplied by the campus pusher, Sparky. The pills helped her lose weight, but made her unable to sleep or eat, dizzy, and irritable. A terrified Traci popped still more pills when Lauren trapped Danny into an engagement. While high, Traci crashed her car, was arrested, went into convulsions and sustained serious heart damage. Somehow, she managed to participate in a campus drug bust, and when Danny asked her to sing a song for his concert, she instead chose to address the audience on her horrible experience with drugs, and to find a more sensible alternative for your life.
Traci fell in love with a suave, handsome professor, Tim Sullivan, and they began an affair. Traci stopped by his apartment one night and found him in bed with another college girl. Crushed and suicidal, she went home, turned the gas on, and would have died if Cricket Blair had not found her in time. Traci then learned she was pregnant by Tim, and old friend Danny agreed to marry her to give the baby a father. Traci told Danny's girlfriend Patty Williams that the marriage was only temporary until the baby was born then they would divorce. As the pregnancy progressed, Traci began to fall in love with Danny, and when Patty confronted her about it, she accidentally caused Traci to fall down the stairs and miscarry. Afterward, Traci agreed to an annulment and she and Danny parted as friends. Because Danny blamed Patty for the miscarriage, she left town. Traci joined Danny singing at concerts over the next several years with themes such as drunk driving and "It's OK to Say No" to drugs.
In 1985, Traci grew close to hunky Brad Carlton, the family groundskeeper. They married, but he was more preoccupied with his budding career at Jabot than his marriage. She went away to Stanford for graduate school and ran into Tim Sullivan again. While she was gone, Brad got involved with her old foe Lauren. Brad put the affair on hold when Traci returned after winning a writing contest. Traci had grown close to Tim, but wanted to make her marriage work. Brad tried to understand her desire to write, but didn't want her to go back to Stanford. Traci suggested they have a baby, and to keep her in town Brad reluctantly agreed.
Traci got pregnant, but Brad's crazy ex-wife Lisa kidnapped him and showed up at Traci's with photos of Lisa and a drugged Brad in bed together. Soon after, she produced a fake tape-recording of Brad saying he wanted a divorce to return to his true love, Lisa. Traci clutched her stomach in pain, miscarrying for the second time. She then started divorce proceedings. When Brad finally escaped Lisa's clutches, he worked hard to win Traci back. When Traci's sister Ashley began flirting with him to make Traci jealous, the plan worked a little too well. Brad fell for Ashley and lost interest in Traci. Traci and Brad divorced.
While apart from Brad, Traci published two successful novels which became best-sellers, "Echoes of the Past" which was a veiled chronicle of life in the shadow of an older sister, and "Epitaph for a Lover".
Brad wooed Ashley, but couldn't persuade her to choose him over Victor Newman. When Ashley impulsively married Victor, a hurt Brad started dating Traci again. A quickie marriage to Cassandra Rawlins briefly kept them apart, but she was killed in a car accident and Brad inherited her millions. Then Traci learned she was pregnant by Brad again, but this time she kept the news a secret from all but John. She wanted Brad to love her for herself. Then Brad drew close to Ashley due to her marriage problems with Victor. Traci told Brad of her pregnancy, and that she could raise the child on her own, but he refused to let that happen.
Brad and Traci remarried and she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Colleen. But their second marriage was no more stable than their first. Traci continued to be jealous of Brad's closeness with Ashley. When Traci's publisher, Steve Connolly, moved to town to help her with her novel, they instantly bonded. She felt as if she'd known him for years, even completing each other's sentences without meaning to. Brad was bitterly jealous, but realized Traci had found true happiness. With a sad farewell to Brad and her family, Traci packed up Colleen and moved to New York City, and soon married Steve.
In 1994 Traci visited Brad in the hospital after his heart attack, and got into a nasty cat fight with Lauren in the waiting room. In 1996 she visited when John seriously considered remarrying Dina. In 1999, she joined the family celebration when they bought back Jabot from Newman.
In 2001 Traci discovered Steve was cheating on her, and moved back home, refusing to hear his side. Teenager, Colleen didn't believe her at first, then turned against Steve when she realized Traci was telling the truth. Brad spent most of his time comforting them both, angering his new wife Ashley. Although Traci realized she was experiencing renewed feelings for Brad, she decided to give her marriage to Steve a second chance and not continue fighting with Ashley over Brad. Colleen was disgusted with the reunion and began lashing out, being disrespectful to Traci and Steve, staying out all hours, smoking pot, and was expelled. Hoping a change would straighten her out, Traci and Steve sent Colleen to live with her Grandfather John Abbott in Genoa City.
Brad and Ashley allowed Colleen to baby-sit for Abby to show they trusted her. Not long after they left, Colleen walked outside to smoke a joint when baby Abby choked on a button, and Colleen ran to her aid, saving her life. She was commended for her efforts after Brad and Ashley realized that the button was dropped by Ashley before she left. Colleen realized how different things could have ended if she had been stoned, so flushed the marijuana and vowed never to smoke again. With the help of her new friend J.T. Hellstrom, Colleen tried her best to stay out of trouble. She worked on the school yearbook, performed in the school play, and returned to both jazz and ballet. Colleen joined the Glo By Jabot team, taking Mac's place as assistant to the webmaster. Too much partying all summer left J.T. lacking the books he was required to read prior to starting GCU. To the rescue was 15 year old Colleen who had a crush on J.T. She had read all the books so tutored him in what he'd need to know. J.T. enjoyed her company, but had no intentions to deflower the young teen.
By the time Colleen turned 16 she and J.T. were in love, but being 19 and in college, and with J.T’s reputation with the girls, John forbade Colleen to see him. She began sneaking out and meeting J.T. on the sly. Colleen eventually went to live with her father Brad and Ashley, and she and J.T. became a sweet love story. Unfortunately in June of 2004, J.T. and Colleen split up, and Colleen returned to New York City brokenhearted. Traci visited Genoa City once again to say goodbye to her father John as he went off to prison for the murder of Tom Fisher.
Jeffrey and Gloria Bardwell plotted to buy up shares in Jabot to get controlling interest. They opened an account in the Caymans called "Agreeing Lovers" which was an anagram for "Gloria’s Revenge". They included Jack in the plan, promising him head of Jabot again. Jack was hesitant to trust them as they don't even fully trust each other. But he convinced his sisters Ashley and Traci to let him proxy their stocks to help put Jabot back under Abbott control.
In November 2008, Traci returned to Genoa City from her home in New York City to attend the funeral of Katherine Chancellor (who was not really dead, it was her doppelganger, Marge). Her mother Dina attended as well, and they exchanged some barbs about Dina's lack of contact with her daughter and granddaughter Colleen. Lauren approached Traci after the funeral, showed her a photo of Fen, and told her how nice it was to see her again. Lauren said she was thinking of all the things she wanted to say to Kay that she would never be able to, then saw Traci and realized that she'd always regretted the way she'd treated her in high school, and just had to apologize. The two hugged as her apology was accepted.
Traci returned again to spend time with Colleen in December 2008, ran into Brad, and they had a nice conversation about their regrets that things had never worked out for them, how much they still loved each other, and Brad called her "the one that got away". Days later, Sharon went up to the Abbott cabin at Twin Lakes to be alone and think about what to do with her life after she had divorce papers served on Jack. Brad showed up and declared his love, but Sharon sent him away. On the drive home, Brad had car trouble, got out, and heard the screams of Noah Newman who had gone skating with Eden and fallen through the ice. Brad died a hero after he pulled Noah from the hole in the ice, when he fell through himself and drowned.
A Jewish service was held with the immediate family, his daughters Colleen and Abby, and his ex-wives Traci, Victoria, and Ashley. Brad's mother was unable to attend, and former lover Nikki was out of town. Sharon visited the grave alone, told him she always loved him, and thanked him for saving Noah’s life. In the Jewish tradition, a headstone was not laid until a week later.
In September 2009, Colleen lost a job prospect teaching at GCU after they saw the video online of her bearing her breasts in a bar, so after confronting Victor about his part in it, she went out to the Abbott cabin to get over it. She arrived to find a woman unknown to her tied to a chair and set her free. It was Patty Williams who had been held there by Gloria and Jeff, awaiting the arrival of Victor and Jack for the ransom they paid. Patty turned on Colleen and kidnapped her at gunpoint, taking her to Camp Cheveyo, and tying her to a tree. After Patty used Colleen's phone to call Jack, and Colleen hollered "cow.." before she was disconnected. (Because the camp slogan was “Cowabunga”, she hoped Jack would remember where they had both gone as kids.) Jack, J.T., and Paul searched for her, convincing even Victoria that Victor had set this all in motion by bringing Patty back to Genoa City to get back at Jack. Meanwhile Patty was bitten by a spider and had a bad reaction, Colleen got free, and held the gun on Patty, unsure what to do as Patty begged her for help. When Colleen tried to help her, Patty grabbed the gun away, but Colleen was able to convince her that she would get help and return, and left in a canoe. She fell out, and when she surfaced, hit her head on the bottom of the boat, sending her sinking again. Colleen was clearly drowning in the same lake as her father, with an eerie sequence of visions she was visited by the people who loved her, begging her to fight and come back to them, even visiting her best friend Lily giving her final advice. She saw her dead father and grandfather, ready to take her to the beyond. Jack realized where Colleen was, raced to the camp, and pulled her out of the lake. But as he tried to administer CPR, Patty was there holding the gun on him. Victor arrived and tried to convince Patty to drop the gun and let Jack save Colleen. Patty shot Victor three times instead and ran into the woods with Paul following, and J.T. stayed to help Victor.
Colleen's mother Traci and step-father Steve, Billy, and Abby were at the hospital when Colleen was brought in, with Nick and Victoria there for Victor. Victor arrived by ambulance in critical condition, and had surgery to remove a bullet from his heart. Ashley confronted Victor about all that he had caused and sent him into heart arrhythmia. Paul traced Nikki to a Colorado spa and brought her back to be with Victor. But his heart was too far gone, only a heart transplant would save him now. Tests confirmed Colleen was brain dead, and Traci finally made the heart-breaking decision to take her off life-support. Colleen’s friends came to say goodbye including her best friend Lily. Kevin and Jana told Traci and Steve what a wonderful person Colleen was, that she had turned their lives around by forgiving them for trying to kill her. A broken-hearted J.T. whispered, "Goodbye Sweetheart" into Colleen's ear and went off to be with his wife, but he returned the next day and spent some time alone with Colleen. Her uncles Jack and Billy and half sister Abby had a hard time comprehending it all.
Then Traci and Steve were told that Colleen was an organ-donor, and Nikki had the nerve to intrude to request Colleen’s heart to save Victor. Jack and Billy protested, then Jack reconsidered and agreed since Victor saved his life. Victor and Colleen turned out to be a match, and Traci decided to agree to the transplant despite Billy’s rant on how Victor was responsible for “Cee Cee’s” death and certainly would not have approved. Billy arranged a celebration of Colleen’s life instead of a funeral, with red balloons, and all wearing bright colors. In addition to the Abbotts, among those attending were Kevin & Jana, Phyllis and Noah representing the Newman’s, J.T., Mac, Kay, Murphy, and Daniel who presented Traci with a portrait of Colleen that he had drawn. “Aunt” Mamie and Dina sent flowers, Adrian and Brad’s mother, both unable to attend, phoned Traci. Victoria arrived and read a letter from Victor full of thanks and gratefulness. Traci, Jack, Ashley, Abby, Neil, Kay, Kevin, and J.T. gave eulogies about what they remembered most about Colleen. Neil broadcasted his eulogy to Lily who was restricted to home due to her cancer-caused low immunity level. At the end all released red balloons, including Lily at home, to “An Angel’s Lullaby” (sang by Beth Maitland, who plays Traci). Colleen was buried next to her father Brad, her kidneys donated to a 16 year old girl, her and corneas to a father who had never seen his children. Traci stayed in town long enough for Ashley's baby Faith Colleen Newman's Christening where Traci and Adam were god-parents, and the baby wore Colleen's Christening gown.
Traci returned to Genoa City to spend Christmas 2009 with her siblings and stopped to visit Lily and Cane, and again in 2010 for Jack's wedding to Emily Peterson (who was really Patty Williams).
In August 2010, Lily Winters asked Mackenzie Browning, their surrogate mother, to be Godmother to her twins. When Mac turned her down explaining that she was getting too attached to them, Lily asked Traci, and she accepted in memory of Colleen.
In February 2011, Traci returned to attend the funeral of Lily's husband Cane Ashby. Cane had been gunned down and murdered while he and Lily had been separated due to Cane lying about his past to protect his family. Lily kept seeing and talking with Cane at his funeral, then again at home where she made peace with him, making sure that he knew that she still loved him despite all the lies. While everyone else thought that Lily was going crazy, Traci understood and had a conversation with Lily about coping with the loss of someone you love.
In January 2012, Traci returned to Genoa City after Jack had been shot and paralyzed by Patty Williams, and she stood vigil with Ashley and Nikki during Jack's surgery. When Cane and Lily decided to remarry, Lily chose Abby and Traci to stand up for her in Colleen's memory. But when the wedding was moved to France as a gift from Katherine, Traci bowed out to stay with Jack, but gave Lily Colleen's bracelet as her "something borrowed", and Abby became Lily's maid of honor.
Traci stayed on to help out Jack, and later finally broke down and admitted that she hated Patty for killing Colleen and crippling Jack. After Jack was able to handle things without her, Traci returned to New York City.
Upon hearing that Jack and Phyllis had reunited, and Phyllis had moved in with him, Traci returned for an extended stay at Abbott Manor. Traci tried to convince Jack that Phyllis was only going to break his heart again, but Jack warned her that if she was only there to break them up, she needed to leave. Overhearing them, Phyllis became determined to prove Traci wrong. Traci ended up moving in with Abby, admitting to her that ever since Colleen had died, she and Steve had drifted apart, and her marriage was in trouble. She later admitted the same to Jack.
After Victoria left Newman again, Victoria spoke to Traci about any connections she might have in the literary world, as she was thinking of getting into writing and illustrating children's books.