Purdue All-American Caleb Swanigan Has Died

posted by vicky684 about 14 days ago
Purdue All-American Caleb Swanigan Has Died
We heard the story many, many times. We heard about it every time Purdue basketball played between 2015 and 2017. And that was okay, because the story was good. It was the story of a young man who grew up in a hard place, including homeless shelters and moving back and forth between Utah and Indiana with his mother, who was trying her best to take care of six kids, and his father, who had become addicted to drugs. It was the story of a young man who loved desserts, especially cheesecake, and who seemed to comfort himself with food when things were bad. In the end, he was 360 pounds before he started high school. Then, though, things changed.

Caleb Swanigan was only 13 years old when Roosevelt Barnes, a former Purdue football player, took him in at the request of Caleb's older brother. Barnes eventually adopted Caleb and moved him to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Barnes knew what it took to do well on and off the field, and he wanted Caleb to have the same drive. Swanigan, on the other hand, did not like football like his adopted father did. No, basketball was his game. Even though he weighed more than 300 pounds, he could play. Something Barnes saw that he thought could make a big difference in Swanigan's life.

So the work started. When you are in the eighth grade and you are 6'2 and 360 pounds, you are probably the biggest person in more ways than one. So, people called him "Biggie." Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows how difficult it can be. It takes hard work to not only work out but also eat well. It is so important to eat right. And for someone who has lived with not having enough food and a situation that is hard to understand, it can be very hard. In a report on ESPN, In January 2017, Swanigan himself said that eating well is hard:

"You might think it is a small thing, but it adds up," he said. "One bad meal will not kill you, but if you have three or four bad meals in a row, your body will start to feel it."

So, Caleb "Biggie" Swanigan started to become a little less, well, big with the help of Harrison Barnes. Swanigan worked hard to become a basketball star in high school and a sought-after college player. After signing an agreement to play for the Michigan State Spartans, he changed his mind and decided to play for the Purdue Boilermakers instead. Swanigan would go on to play in the McDonald's All-American game and be named Mr. Basketball in Indiana. Caleb Swanigan has done amazing things that he would have thought were impossible just five years ago.

Swanigan made a big difference right away at Purdue. His rebounding was probably his best skill. After the ball came off the rim, no one wanted it more than him, and if you wanted it, you had to go through him. He was also good at scoring, but that was not as good as his rebounding. In his first game at college, he scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Out of the 69 games he played in college, 40 of them would have 10 or more rebounds. During his second year, he had four games where he got 20 or more rebounds. If we look at that second season by itself, it was even more special. Forget about those 40 games with 10 or more rebounds I mentioned above. Instead, look at his sophomore year and you will see that he had 29 games with 10 or more rebounds out of just 35. That is six times in a season when he did not get more than 10 rebounds. It is different from anything I have ever seen or likely will see again. He knew where the ball was better than anyone else. At the college level, rebounding is all about how hard you work. And for a guy who changed his whole body and his whole life, he never ran out of effort.

Swanigan had a great season, so much so that he became the first Purdue player in six years to be named a consensus All-American. The Purdue sports release on this achievement spells out just how incredible this sophomore season was:

Swanigan had one of the best statistical seasons in the history of both Purdue and the NCAA. This helped him make the first team. Swanigan averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He shot 52.7 percent from the field, 44.7 percent from 3-point range, and 78.1 percent from the free throw line.

He is the only player at a major college (and one of only two overall) to score 600 points, get 400 rebounds, and give out 100 assists in a single season. The other player was Jerrelle Benimon of Towson in 2013-14. He is the only player in the last 25 years, along with Wake Forest's legendary Tim Duncan (1996-97 season), to average at least 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 3 assists in a season.

Swanigan is the only player in the 31 years since the 1985-86 season to have scored at least 640 points, gotten at least 430 rebounds, and given at least 100 assists.

His 28 double-doubles are the most ever for a Big Ten player and the 13th most ever in NCAA history. He is the best player in the country in this category. He had almost 100 more rebounds than the second-place player, Joe Barry Carroll, who had 352. He also had 10 more double-doubles than any other player in Purdue history.

After this season, he did what was smart and put himself in the NBA Draft. The Portland Trailblazers picked him with the 26th pick in the first round. He had done something terrible. The young man who weighed almost 400 pounds changed his body and his mind, and the NBA picked him in the first round. It is like a storybook. You almost would not believe it if you had not seen it for yourself. Something that really seemed too good to be true. I guess we can see that in a way now.

When it happened, you and I were not there. We do not know what made Caleb Swanigan go back to the dark path he seemed to have left behind. I will not try to guess, but I will say that the Covid-19 pandemic made a lot of people's lives difficult. Swanigan seemed to do well in a system with Roosevelt Barnes, Purdue Basketball, and the NBA. The NBA Bubble was the first thing that changed. Caleb Swanigan decided not to go with the Trailblazers to the bubble because of personal reasons.

From there, you probably know what happened. You heard about the arrest and saw the mugshot, which showed how much weight the person had gained. You wished it was not true. But it was all true, which is a shame. Caleb Swanigan, the young man who had worked so hard and made so many sacrifices to get away from a life of drugs and overeating and find stability, was now in the situation that many people had feared would be his fate for a long time. With a father who weighed more than 500 pounds, used drugs, and had diabetes, he must have always felt like he was living under a dark cloud. He had been able to avoid it for a number of years. He had overcome the problems of his childhood to become something that most of us can only dream of. He was an NBA player, an All-American, and a major university retired his jersey. It was not enough, though.

For many years, addiction has been the biggest problem in this country. It has killed a lot of people way too young, and there is no end in sight. When things like this happen, people always wonder why someone would do this to themselves, what hurt they were trying to forget, or what pain they were trying to block out. It is clear that Caleb Swanigan had a lot to try to forget, a lot of pain to try to dull, and a family history to try to escape. History has taught us that even the fastest runners slow down and that even the best of us can have trouble.

The race is over for Caleb Swanigan. Early this morning, people heard that he had died at age 25. Details are still coming out, but the first reports indicate that the person died of natural causes. No matter what caused it, it is sad. His Purdue teammates started tweeting about it this morning. The young man who had been through so much and laid everything out on the floor every night was gone.

Caleb Swanigan's life was an amazing story with a lot of great moments. After he was arrested, I had hoped that Swanigan would do what he did best, which was to get back on his feet. To see what the next move will be and jump up to get it. That did not happen. Now, the story of a life that had all the makings of a happy ending ends not with cheers but with tears.
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vicky684


I am Victor UC popularly known as "Mr Victor Vlogs", I am a blogger, Content creator, web developer, etc.

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