America's tallest man, Igor Vovkovinskiy, has died at age 38.
The Minnesota resident suffered from various health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, which caused his death on Friday, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.
Born Sept. 8, 1982, in Bar, Ukraine, Vovkovinskiy relocated in 1989 to Rochester, where he sought help at the Mayo Clinic for a tumor that was pressing against his pituitary gland and causing it to secrete abnormal levels of growth hormone. At age 6, he stood 6 feet tall, his mother, Svetlana Vovkovinska, said. By the time he was an adult, Vovkovinskiy measured 7 feet, 8.33 inches in height. He was 27 when he was declared the tallest living person in the U.S. by a Guinness World Records adjudicator on Dr. Oz’s show.
Vovkovinskiy's height made him a local celebrity. In 2007, he was featured in the show "Inside Extraordinary Humans: The Science of Gigantism," and in 2014 famously carried a Ukrainian contestant onto the stage in the "Eurovision Song Contest." Vovkovinskiy also drew the attention of former President Barack Obama who, during a 2009 campaign rally, noticed him standing several feet from the stage wearing a T-shirt that read, the "World's Biggest Obama Supporter." Despite all this, Vovkovinskiy's brother, Oleh Ladan of Brooklyn Park, said he "would have rather lived a normal life than be known."
Vovkovinskiy revealed certain struggles a few years ago, during an interview on "60 Minutes Australia."
"I always have to think about: Am I endangering my life? Nothing is built for my size, so everything is a challenge," he said at the time.
Additionally, Vovkovinskiy battled to find shoes that would fit his size 26 feet and put out an appeal on Facebook for assistance to cover the estimated $16,000 cost for specially made shoes that wouldn't hurt him.
"I'd like to do simple things, like maybe go window shopping at a mall. I haven't done that in about four years. Maybe walk my dog, go fishing," he said.
Later in life, Ladan said his brother struggled to walk and his health conditions worsened. In a Facebook post, his mother recalled how he was happy to see his niece, Kristina Ladan, and nephew, Andriy Ladan, the night of his death, and even joked about Andriy learning to speak Ukrainian.
Vovkovinskiy is survived by Ladan, Andriy, Kristina, his mother, and stepsister Olha Ladan of Ukraine
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