Basketball: ex-homeless turned NBA player, Caleb Swanigan died at 25


His name had perhaps not crossed the borders of the NBA where he officiated for a few years. Caleb Swanigan was one of those rankless in the mighty American League. Caleb Swanigan was found dead on June 21 at his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The causes of his death are not yet known but it seems that the basketball player died of natural causes. He was 25 years old.

At 14, he weighed 160 kg

What a tragic fate that of this strong winger who could also play pivot! Born in Indianapolis, Swanigan had a sordid childhood, rocked by foster homes. When he celebrated his 13th birthday in 2010, he had already been through five homeless shelters with his mother and five siblings. He had also been enrolled in 13 different schools.

Bulimic of food, he was in preadolescence only an obese child without future destined to beg in the corners of the streets where he slept. His father Carl died in 2014 from diabetes. He weighed 230 kg for 2.03 m at the time of his death. His son began to take the same path before deviating from it, then returning to it at the end of his short life. At 14, Caleb Swanigan was 1.88m tall but weighed around 160kg.

World champion with the U17 and U19

It was basketball that got him out of hell for the first time. His height (2.06 m as an adult) allowed him to be spotted by Roosevelt Barnes, a coach of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Association), an amateur basketball league like there is in the United States where the sport business crushes everything. It was there, around the age of 15, that the young Swanigan, quickly nicknamed « Mr. Basketball » by his new friends, became a basketball player. The teenager, down to 120 kg, his ideal weight, has transformed into a muscular athlete by rebalancing his diet.

World champion with the U 17 then the U 19 Americans, in 2014 and 2015, he made the heyday of Purdue, a powerful American university. In 2017, at age 20, the former homeless man presented himself for the NBA draft. He was chosen in 26th position by the Portland Trail Blazers and his incredible trajectory quickly fascinated America. The interior played 75 NBA games between 2017 and 2020 between Portland and Sacramento, his other franchise.

Big depression after the Covid

His average playing time, around eight minutes per game, hasn’t been mind-blowing. He remained a bench player who could come in at any time to score a basket or two. That’s why he wasn’t a very well-known player in Europe. He invested himself during his career in American schools to help children eat better every day, junk food being a scourge in the United States.

Swanigan played his last NBA game when the Covid put the NBA on hold in March 2020. It all started again when the virus was less virulent, but not him. Without basketball, his only reason for living, the player sank into a deep depression from which he never recovered.

In 2021, he had avoided prison for recidivism of illegal possession of marijuana. “It seems clear that he has problems in his life. You don’t know what he’s going through and you don’t know what led him to this drastic change. Support him instead of wondering why a guy who tends to naturally gain weight changes like that when he goes through a dark period, ”defended his friend Damian Lillard, the Portland star, recently.

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