Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in America who at stood 7 feet 8 inches (2.35 meters), has died. He was 38 years old.
His mother, who said her son died of a heart problem on Friday in Minnesota, had brought him from their home in Ukraine in 1989 to get medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in the northern US state.
Ukrainian-born Igor Vovkovinskiy had a condition called pituitary gigantism that caused excessive secretion of growth hormone. Two surgeries saved his life but failed to stop his growth.
At age 27, Guinness World Records declared Vovkovinskiy the tallest person in America.
“It feels good to finally have proof that I am the Tallest Man in America,” said Vovkovinskiy in 2010. “Everyone is always asking me if I’m certain that I’m the tallest and I was never able to prove it. Now that I have this certificate to hang on my wall, I could finally show it!”
In the 2013 edition of the Eurovision song contest, Vovkovinskiy walked on stage cradling Ukraine’s singer, Zlata Ognevich, in his arms. She looked tiny and doll-like.
Vovkovinskiy enjoyed another moment of celebrity in 2009 when then-president Barack Obama noticed him towering above the crowd at a political rally. Vovkovinskiy was wearing a T-shirt that called him the “World’s Biggest Obama Supporter.” He shook hands with the politician.
Vovkovinskiy was born Sept. 8, 1982, in Bar, Ukraine, to Vovkovinska and Oleksandr Ladan, according to Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home, which is holding a memorial service on Saturday.
Guinness World Records says the tallest person in the world now is a Turkish man named Sultan Kosen, who is 8 feet 2 inches tall (2.51 meters).
The tallest man in modern US history was Robert Wadlow, who was 8 feet 9 inches (2.72 meters). He also suffered from a growth hormone disorder, and died in 1940 at the age of 22.