The Gentle Giant

The Gentle Giant

Yannick Hispa, Author

Robert Wadlow was the tallest man to ever live, at least he was the tallest man with proof of his height, Robert was born on February 22, 1918, in Alton, Illinois, and sadly died at the age of 22 on July 15, 1940. Robert was 272cm or 8ft 11 inches, to put that into perspective, Robert’s head was 1ft short of a basketball hoop(10ft) or the average male height is 5ft 9 inches. Over the years Robert developed a nickname “The Gentle Giant” and was a celebrity at the time. He could not walk down the alleyway without getting bombarded by people and paparazzi.

The reason a human grows is because of the release of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) from the pituitary gland, the amount of HGH released peaks during puberty and declines after the age of 30. Yet Robert’s pituitary gland had hypertrophy which results in the excessive release of HGH disproportionate to the rest of his body, hence, his body could not handle his height.

Wadlow’s height made it extremely difficult to acquire the right size shoes, clothes, and beds… which is why he had to get most of them custom-made. For example, he wore a size 37AA shoe which would cost about 500 dollars to make.

Being 8,11 was certainly not healthy and caused numerous health risks and is the reason he died at the young age of 22. Wadlow had an autoimmune disease that led to death at sleep on July 15, 1940. His last words were “The doctor says I won’t get home for the…celebrations”, referencing his paternal grandparents’ golden wedding. Wadlow’s coffin was nearly a foot longer than a basketball hoop (10ft 9 inches). Robert’s tremendous height had its ups and downs, and it depends on who you ask whether it was a curse or a gift.