The tallest man in the world ever to be measured and recorded was Robert Wadlow who was born on Feb. 22, 1918 and grew to be 8’ 11” .09 (272 cm).
Known as the Afton Giant and the Giant of Illinois, Wadlow suffered from gigantism, a medical condition caused by an overactive pituitary gland.
He died at 22 after an abrasion on his ankle became infected, causing him to develop a fever of 104 Fahrenheit that lasted for four days.
By comparison to the tallest players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) that was founded on June 6, 1946 in New York, Wadlow, had he lived, would have towered above the tallest players ever to play in the NBA.
Some of the greatest NBA players to ever play the game would have had to guard Wadlow by looking up at him. Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest players in NBA history and the only one to ever score 100 points in an NBA game, stood at 7’ 1” which was nearly two feet shorter than Wadlow.
The only three players in NBA history who stood 7’3” or taller to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame are Ralph Sampson of Harrisonburg who stands at 7’3” which is the same height as Arvydas Sabonis who has been inducted. Yao Ming who has been measured at 7’6” is the tallest NBA star to be inducted. He would be dwarfed by Wadlow who would have looked down at Ming who was nearly 17” shorter.
The previous record-holder for being the tallest man to be measured and recorded was John Rogan who stood at 8’9” (267 cm). Rogan was born in 1872 and lived until his death at 30 in 1902.
Film footage of Wadlow reveals that he could reach above the rim of a 10’ high basketball rim by standing under it. However, Wadlow lived in the era before the NBA was formed, and he passed away on June 15, 1940.
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.