Caleb Swanigan, a former Purdue star and NBA player, dies at the age of 25

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Former NBA player and Purdue prominent Caleb Swanigan has died at the age of 25, his family announced Tuesday through Boilermakers.

Swanigan died Monday of natural causes at a hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind., According to the Allen County Coroner’s Office (via the Associated Press). Swanigan came of age in Fort Wayne, where he, with the help of his adoptive father, shed more than 100 pounds and emerged as a top talent in high school.

“The Purdue basketball family is deeply saddened and devastated by the loss of Caleb Swanigan,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said in a statement. “Caleb was a very thoughtful person and a gentle soul who excelled both on and off the field. He made a huge difference in everyone’s lives that he touched and he will be greatly missed.”

After leading his senior team to his first state title and being named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2015, Swanigan first committed to Michigan State before changing his mind and going to Purdue. His adoptive father, Roosevelt Barnes, was a three-sport star with the Boilermakers who played in the NFL as a linebacker and later became a sports agent.

From 2017: A sports agent received a 360-pound teenager. He became Caleb Swanigan.

As a sophomore at Purdue, Swanigan earned a number of awards, including the 2017 Big Ten Player of the Year award and first-rate all-American quotes. He set a conference record with 28 doubles doubles and led the Boilermakers to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

Swanigan were then drafted 26th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers, who later handed out the 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward to the Sacramento Kings in a 2019 mid-season trade. He was switched back to the Trail Blazers the following year, and his NBA career ended effectively when he chose to join Portland on the league’s pandemic-delayed bubble near Orlando in 2020. Swanigan averaged 2.3 points and 2.9 rebounds over 75 games in three NBA seasons.

They said they were “heartbroken” by Swanigan’s passing, the Trail Blazers tired Tuesday: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Caleb’s family, friends and all who loved him.”

They added “Rest in peace, Biggie,” using a nickname dating back to Swanigan’s childhood. He experienced homelessness, which made it difficult to stick to a healthy diet, developed a sweet tooth and saw that his weight reportedly reached 360 pounds before he started in eighth grade.

Barnes said in 2017 that after adopting Swanigan, he began transforming his child’s eating habits by removing sugar, salt and bread from their home.

“There were times when he cheated, but the thing is, you have to have more days when you win than when you lose,” said Barnes, who praised Swanigan’s focus and determination. “… He had to learn to eat things that are green.”

The result was a young man’s transformation into a lean, athletic star at a major college program and eventually a member of professional basketball’s premier league.

Following Swanigan’s departure from the NBA, he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of drug offenses in 2021. After a photo went viral around the time and appeared to show Swanigan had gained weight, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has so in an online comment, “You do not know WHAT it is he is going through to cause a drastic change.”

Lillard then added that people should show support for someone who “naturally was a big guy” and had gone “down a dark road.”

On Tuesday, another former teammate, Sacramento striker Harrison Barnes, twitret“RIP Biggie.”

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Caleb Swanigan,” said Kings. “He will be remembered as a good teammate and friend. Our hearts are with his family during this incredibly difficult time. “

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