Former All-American, Big Ten Forward Dead at 25
Caleb Swanigan, former All-American forward for the Purdue Boilermakers and NBA first-round draft pick, was pronounced dead Monday night.
The Purdue men's basketball program made the announcement, but no clarification on the circumstances of his death have been shared.
During his college basketball tenure, Swanigan was a monster in the paint. I mean, just ask any Iowa fan what he did to the Hawkeyes in the post.
Over the two matchups between the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers during the 2016-2017 season, Swanigan nearly posted two double-doubles, putting up 11 and 10 in their first matchup and 17 and 8 in their second. For the season, the big man from Fort Wayne, Indiana put up 18.2 points and 12.5 rebounds, so maybe the Hawks didn't fair too poorly against the future NBA draft pick.
Following his standout sophomore season, Swanigan was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and earned the honor of being a consensus first-team All American. He was also a finalist for the Naismith Award.
He then spent his three years in the league with the Portland Trail Blazers -- the team that took him 26th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft -- and the Sacramento Kings. For his career, the 6'9 big man put up 2.3 points and hauled in 2.9 rebounds over 8.7 minutes per game.
As a child, Swanigan was dealt a tough hand from the get-go. In a 2017 ESPN feature article, the sports outlet detailed his early struggles: "Throughout his youth, he floated between unstable housing situations and homeless shelters, back and forth between Indianapolis and Utah, as his mother, Tanya, tried to stabilize her life with six children, all while his father, Carl Swanigan Sr., wrestled with a crack-cocaine addiction. Swanigan developed a complicated relationship with food as he was surrounded by the unhealthy options peddled to those who can't afford to consider quality -- sugary cereal, ice cream, pizza."
As an 8th grader, the boy they called Biggie was 6'2 and 360 pounds.
It wasn't just food, though. The story continues:
"His father's drug habit created a monsoon of instability. In 1995, a reporter at the Deseret News wrote that Carl Swanigan Sr. knew he 'was dragging his family into poverty.' Swanigan recalls staying at five different homeless shelters throughout his youth."
Caleb Swanigan had an incredible story of transcending a difficult childhood and weight issues and becoming a force on the basketball court and a for good in the world.