Shock in the NBA: a 25-year-old former player who had gained 65 kilos in 36 months died

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Caleb's physical difference between his time in the NBA and his last public appearance in 2021
Caleb’s physical difference between his time in the NBA and his last public appearance in 2021

After breaking into the NBA, the case of Caleb Swanigan drew attention for his story of overcoming to get to wear the colors of the Portland Trail Blazers after being elected to the Draft 2017. Only five years after joining the most competitive basketball league in the world, his body gave way: according to various US media, he died of natural causes at the age of just 25.

He was one of six children raised by a single mother since his father, Carl Swanigan Sr., constantly battled a crack addiction. They lived in homeless shelters in Utah or under a bridge. His father passed away in 2013 from complications related to diabetes. She was 50 years old and, as reported ESPN in 2017, Carl Sr. was 2.07 meters tall and weighed almost 227 kilos at the time of his death.

But one day Caleb decided to take advantage of his promising inherited physique of 2.06 meters and great physical build to enter the world of sports. At that time he contacted Roosevelt Barnes, an old family friend who was dedicated to promoting athletes in the country’s elite. In 2010 he was an obese boy who life had given him the opportunity for a better life. He always struggled with his weight and he was one of those genetically predisposed people to gain weight easily.

“One of the last times I saw him, one day of practice at the 2017 NCAA tournament in Kansas City, he was riding a stationary bike. He was wearing a sweatshirt, the kind wrestlers wear to lose weight before weigh-ins. Even then, a college athlete only 20 years old, Biggie was already fighting his body’s natural inclinations.”revealed one of the portal’s journalists USA Today about Caleb’s complications at a young age.

Caleb defends a ball for the Trail Blazers against Rui Hachimura's mark (Photo: USA Today)
Caleb defends a ball for the Trail Blazers against Rui Hachimura’s mark (Photo: USA Today)

Biggie continued to battle her genetic and eating problems that started during her early life in Fort Wayne. He came to Purdue University in 2015 after be named Indiana Mr. Basketballaward for the best player in that state, while attending Homestead High School. He originally committed to the University of Michigan, but ended up at West Lafayette where he played two seasons with the Boilermakers y was selected to the first team All-American, earning the honor of Big Ten Player of the Year in 2017.

“He was a good soul and a good man. He will be missed”the Purdue director posted on Twitter, Isaac Haaswho used to be a teammate of Swanigan. Biggie He was also one of the five finalists of the Wooden Awardalong with big names that compete or have passed through the NBA as Lonzo Ball from UCLA, Josh Hart of Villanova, Frank Mason of Kansas and Nigel Williams-Goss of Gonzaga. In just two years, Caleb studied in parallel with sports and received his diploma in History of Education. For his family he became different, since none of his five brothers even managed to finish high school.

His first attempt to apply to the NBA Draft in 2016 was dropped after league executives told him he needed to lose weight and add shooting. Through hard work and dedication, he did both and showed off his triumphant new body and skill set a year later: was selected in 2017 with the 26th pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Swanigan disputing a one-on-one rebound with LeBron James (Photo: USA Today)
Swanigan disputing a one-on-one rebound with LeBron James (Photo: USA Today)

Caleb played two seasons in Portland and came to play a total of 45 official games. He was changed to Sacramento Kings in 2019, making 10 appearances, before the Trail Blazers brought him back in early 2020. During his NBA career, Swanigan worked extensively with city-area youth and FoodCorps to promote healthy eating habits in schools and eliminate childhood hunger.

Biggie was last in the news in 2021, after the former Homestead star pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge in Whitley County and there was the enormous physical change he had weighing about 200 kilos, approximately 65 more than his last games in the NBA during 2019. Already away from the influence of Roosevelt Barneswas sentenced to 180 days in jail and ordered to complete a substance abuse evaluation and comply with any prescribed treatment.

Caleb endured as much as he could to the different pressures that life presented him until at age 25 he decided to give in: the Allen County Coroner’s Office confirmed to the network WANE 15 what Swanigan was found dead of natural causes at his Fort Wayne home. This Tuesday, June 21.

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