When he was born in Ukraine in 1982, Igor Vovkovinskiy seemed like an average baby. His parents did not suspect anything unusual about him (video below). That is until he began growing.
By the time he was 6 months old, Vovkovinskiy was the size of a 1-year-old child. When he turned 1, he was the size of a 3-year-old child.
It was then that his mother began to grow concerned about his size.
After taking Vovkovinskiy to the doctors to address the issue, he was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain that was affecting his pituitary gland, causing his body to release large amounts of growth hormones.
The condition is known as acromegalic giagantism. Because the condition is so rare, doctors in the Ukraine did not have a plan to treat the issue. It was then that he and his mother decided to move to Rochester, Minnesota, so he could be treated at Mayo Clinic.
By this time, at age 7, Vovkovinskiy was already 6 feet tall. After the initial consultation, doctors decided to ultimately operate to remove the tumor.
Though the procedure was a success, his body still produced growth hormones until he was 20 years old.
By the time he was 30, Vovkovinskiy was 7 feet 8 inches tall, making him the tallest man in the U.S.
George Bell, a basketball player who was a mere 1/4 inch shorter than Vovkovinskiy, previously held the record.
“Gigantism has affected me that I no longer feel that I fit into any part of society,” said Vovkovinskiy in an interview for a new documentary about his life. “That’s a feeling that I’ve had since I went into middle school and high school.”
He continued, “Being tall makes the world very annoying, every structure that I go into is too small, too short. I end up hitting my head on all the exit signs. The world is just a very uncomfortable place for someone my size.”
Along with those issues, he also has to deal with a slew of medical concerns because of his height. Over the past six years he has had more than 18 surgeries. Despite this, the Ukrainian-born giant is studying for his law degree.
In 2012, Vovkovinskiy made national news when Reebok offered to make him a pair of custom shoes. The shoes were a staggering size 24.
Despite his height, Vovkovinskiy is an otherwise normal person. He enjoys “fishing, PC gaming, watching movies, playing games on my PS3, making graphics for fun, making websites, military history, [and] playing with my dog,” according to his Reddit AMA.