Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in the US, has died in Minnesota. He was 38.
His family said the Ukrainian-born Vovkovinskiy died of heart disease on Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Sy ma, Svetlana Vovkovinska, an ICU nurse at Mayo, posted about his death on Facebook.
Vovkovinskiy came to the Mayo Clinic in 1989 as a child seeking treatment. A tumor pressing against his pituitary gland caused it to secrete abnormal levels of growth hormone. He grew to become the tallest man in the US at 7ft 8.33in (2.35m) and ended up staying in Rochester.
His older brother, Oleh Ladan of Brooklyn Park, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that Vovkovinskiy was a celebrity when he arrived from Ukraine because of his size and the flickering cold war of the late 1980s. But Ladan said Vovkovinskiy “would have rather lived a normal life than be known”.
Vovkovinskiy appeared on the Dr Oz Show and was called out by Barack Obama during a campaign rally in 2009, when the president noticed him near the stage wearing a T-shirt that read “World’s Biggest Obama Supporter”.
In 2013, he carried the Ukrainian contestant onto the stage to perform in the Eurovision Song Contest.
When he was 27, Vovkovinskiy traveled to New York and was declared America’s tallest living person by a Guinness World Records adjudicator on Oz’s show. He edged out a sheriff’s deputy in Virginia by one-third of an inch.
According to Guinness World Records, the tallest man in the world is Sultan Kösen, from Turkey. In 2016, he was measured at more than 8ft 2in.
According to the same source, the tallest person ever recorded was Robert Pershing Wadlow, from Illinois, who was measured at 8ft 11in. Hy het gesterf in 1940 aged just 22, from a septic blister on his right ankle caused by a poorly fitted brace.
In 2012, Vovkovinskiy issued a plea for help to cover the estimated $16,000 cost for specially made shoes that wouldn’t cause him crippling pain.
Op daardie stadium, he said he hadn’t owned a pair for years that fit his feet, which were size 26 10E. Thousands donated more than double what he needed. Reebok provided the custom shoes for free.
Vovkovinskiy was born on 8 September 1982 in Bar, Ukraine, to Vovkovinska and Oleksandr Ladan, according to Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home, which will hold a memorial service on Saturday. His father died earlier.