HomeSportsCaleb Swanigan, former Purdue star and NBA player, dies at 25

Caleb Swanigan, former Purdue star and NBA player, dies at 25

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Former NBA player and Purdue star Caleb Swanigan has died at age 25, his family announced through the Boilermakers on Tuesday.

Swanigan died Monday at a hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to the Allen County Coroner’s Office (via The Associated Press). Swanigan came of age in Fort Wayne, where, with the help of his adoptive father, he lost over 100 pounds and became one of the top talents in high school.

“The Purdue basketball family is deeply saddened and devastated by the loss of Caleb Swanigan,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said in a statement. “Caleb was a very thoughtful person and a gentle soul who excelled on and off the pitch. He made a huge difference in the lives of everyone he touched and he will be sorely missed.

After leading his high school team to their first state title and being named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2015, Swanigan first committed to Michigan State before changing his mind and… head to Purdue. His adoptive father, Roosevelt Barnes, was a three-sport star with the Boilermakers who played in the NFL as a linebacker and later became a sports agent.

From 2017: A sports agent took in a 360-pound teenager. He became Caleb Swanigan.

As a sophomore at Purdue, Swanigan earned numerous accolades, including the 2017 Big Ten Player of the Year award and All-American First Team citations. He set a conference record with 28 double-doubles and led the Boilermakers to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Swanigan was then drafted 26th by the Portland Trail Blazers, who then dealt the 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward to the Sacramento Kings in a 2019 midseason trade. He was traded to the Trail Blazers the following year, and his NBA career effectively ended when he opted out of joining Portland in the league’s pandemic-delayed bubble near Orlando in 2020. Swanigan averaged 2.3 points and 2.9 rebounds over 75 games in three NBA. seasons.

Saying they are “heartbroken” by the passing of Swanigan, the Trail Blazers declared Tuesday, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Caleb’s family, friends and all who loved him.”

They added “Rest in peace, Biggie”, using a nickname that dates back to Swanigan’s childhood. He experienced homelessness, which made it difficult to adhere to a healthy diet, developed a sweet tooth, and saw his weight reach 360 pounds before he started eighth grade.

Barnes said in 2017 that after adopting Swanigan, he began to reshape the child’s eating habits by removing sugar, salt and bread from their home.

“There were times when he was cheating, but the fact is you have to have more days when you win than when you lose,” said Barnes, who praised Swanigan’s focus and determination. “…He had to learn to eat green stuff.”

The result was a young man’s transformation into a lean, athletic star in a major college program and ultimately a member of professional basketball’s biggest league.

Following Swanigan’s departure from the NBA, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge in 2021. After a photo went viral around this time appearing to show Swanigan had gained weight, the Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said in an online comment, “You don’t know what he’s going through to bring about drastic change.”

Lillard then added that people should show their support for someone who was “naturally a big dude” and had taken “a dark road”.

On Tuesday, another former teammate, Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes, tweeted“RIP Biggie”.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Caleb Swanigan,” the Kings said. “He will be remembered as an excellent teammate and friend. Our hearts are with his family during this incredibly difficult time. »

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