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Perdue player Caleb Swanigan’s rise from homeless kid to NBA star after tragic death at age 25

NBA star Caleb Swanigan, who tragically passed away on Monday at the age of 25, was a standout player in college and throughout his pro career.

Swanigan overcame several childhood obstacles that led him to the NBA before health complications led to his unexpected death.

Caleb Swanigan ate a regular diet of fast food and surgical cereal because his mother couldn't afford healthier meals

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Caleb Swanigan ate a regular diet of fast food and surgical cereal because his mother couldn’t afford healthier mealsPhoto credit: family handout
Swanigan played two seasons with the Portland Trailblazers

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Swanigan played two seasons with the Portland TrailblazersPhoto credit: Getty

Fans, former teammates and colleagues took to social media to express their sadness at Swanigan’s passing.

Newsweek reported that the Allen County Coroner’s Office has ruled that Swanigan died of natural causes.

The University of Purdue, where Swanigan played college basketball, wrote one tribute to the former basketball player on Twitter.

Similarly, The Portland Trailblazers and Sacramento Kings have posted tributes to Swanigan on the app.

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Newsweek reported that Swanigan has spent his professional career playing for both NBA teams.

In 2017, he was drafted 26th overall to the Portland Trailblazers, finishing the 2017 and 2020 seasons with them.

Swanigan was then traded to the Sacramento Kings, where he spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with them.

basketball analyst Jeff Goodman also shared some of his earliest memories of Swanigan on Twitter.

“Such sad news to wake up to today. Former Purdue star and NBA player Caleb Swanigan has passed away. Swanigan was 25 years old. I first met him at the AAU circuit; he was always such a nice, sweet street kid. Sorely missed,” the post said.

Swanigan overcame several obstacles to achieve his dream of becoming a professional basketball player.

Throughout his youth, he faced domestic insecurity, unhealthy relationships with food, and an absent father dealing with a crack cocaine addiction.

His mother, Tanya, did the best she could to care for six children, including Swanigan, but struggled to provide a stable environment for her family.

“My mom always had a roof over my head,” he told ESPN

“I went to four different middle schools and probably nine elementary schools alone,” Swanigan told ESPN.

The family stayed in homeless shelters between Indianapolis and Utah. Without the financial means to buy healthier foods, Swanigan was often fed unhealthy options like fast food and sugary breakfast cereal.

“You think it’s something tiny, but it’s building,” Swanigan told ESPN in 2017. “One meal isn’t going to kill you, but if it becomes three or four meals bad in a row, it starts to hurt your body.”

However, Swanigan worked to lose 100 pounds before starting high school.

ESPN reported that he was nicknamed “Biggie” by his aunt, who took inspiration for the name from Notorious BIG.

“She just started, ‘Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see that?’ to sing. song,” Carl Swanigan Jr., Swanigan’s brother, told ESPN.

During high school, “Biggie’s” basketball talent improved dramatically, earning him a berth in the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game.

Towards the end of his high school career, Swanigan wanted to play college basketball at Michigan State before settling on the University of Purdue.

“I just felt like it was better for me basketball-wise,” he told ESPN in 2017.

He continued to maintain a healthy relationship with food throughout his college years. He was a star on the basketball court and had a record four 20-point and 20-rebound performances during his rookie season.

After his time in the NBA, Swanigan once again struggled with his weight.

Critics poked fun at his looks.

Newsweek reported that Trail Blazers’ star guard Damian Lillard was brought in social media to stand up against Swanigan’s tyrants.

“You don’t know WHAT he’s going through to make a drastic change,” Lillard said in 2021. “If you went to support him, then do it, but don’t ask something like it’s not possible.” if of course you’re a big guy and you’re walking down a dark path.”

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Though his life was cut short, Swanigan hoped he could make his parents and basketball mentors proud.

“I have many people who live through me,” Swanigan told Bleacher Report in 2015. “Hopefully I can give them a reason to smile.”

Swanigan was a powerhouse basketball player in college and in the NBA

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Swanigan was a powerhouse basketball player in college and in the NBAPhoto credit: Getty

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5609556/nba-player-caleb-swanigan-death-health-issues/ Perdue player Caleb Swanigan’s rise from homeless kid to NBA star after tragic death at age 25

DevanCole

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