Robert Pershing Wadlow ( February 22 , 1918 July 15 , 1940 ) is the tallest human recorded in modern times for whom there is documented evidence.  Wadlow reached an unprecedented 8 ft. 11.09 in. (2.72 m.) in height and weighed 439 pounds (199 kg.) at his death,at aged twenty two.  It is rumored that he was still growing at this time.  His great size and his continued growth in adulthood were due to a tumor within his pituitary gland.

Wadlow was born to Harold Franklin and Addie (Johnson) Wadlow in Alton, Illinois on 22 February 1918 , at the weight of 8 lb, 6 oz (3.80 kg) at normal height.  He was the oldest of five children; his younger siblings were Helen Ione, Eugene Harold, Betty Jean, and Harold Franklin II.  His height increased normally until he was four years old.   He then started attracting attention due to his rapid growth.  By the age of eight, he was 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) tall.  At 10, he was 6 ft 6 in (198 cm) and 220 pounds (100 kg).  At the age of 14, he became the world's tallest Boy Scout at the height of 7 ft 4 in (224 cm), averaging a growth of four inches per year since birth; at that time he wore size size '25,' shoes.

At 16, Wadlow was 7 ft 10.5 in (240 cm) tall and weighed 365 pounds (166 kg).  At 17, he weighed nearly 400 pounds (180 kg) and was 8 feet 1.5 inches (248 cm) tall.  By age 18, Wadlow had grown to be 8 ft 4 in (254 cm) and weighed more than 390 pounds (26 stone/177 kg); his size 37AA shoes (about 19.3 in or 49 cm) (the largest size ever) were provided to him free of charge.  In 1936, after graduating from Alton High School, he enrolled in Shurtleff College with the intention of studying law.  By 1937, Wadlow had exceeded all previous recorded human heights.  At 19, he was 8 ft 6 in (260 cm) and weighed 435 pounds (31 stone/197 kg).  On his 21st birthday he attained his greatest weight- 491 pounds(223 kilograms).

Wadlow's size began to take its toll: he required leg braces to walk, and had little feeling in his legs and feet.  When Robert was 21, he reached 8 ft 8.5 in (265 cm) tall.  On June 27 1940 (eighteen days before his death), he was measured at 8 feet 11.09 inches(272.01 cm.) by doctors C. M. Charles and Cyril MacBryde of Washington University in St. Louis.

At his time, Wadlow was among the most popular of American celebrities ; he was well-known due to his 1936 U.S. tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus and his 1938 promotional tour with the INTERCO.   He continued participating in various tours and public appearances.

On 4 July, 1940 Robert was hospitalized while making a professional appearance at the National Forest Festival; a faulty brace had irritated his ankle, causing a blister and bad infection.  Doctors treated him with a blood transfusion and emergency surgery, but his condition worsened and on 15 July, 1940, he died in his sleep.

Around 40,000 people attended Wadlow's funeral on July 19th.  He was buried in a half-ton coffin that required 12 men to carry, which was interred within a vault of solid concrete.  It was believed that Wadlow's family were concerned for the sanctity of his body after his death, and went to these lengths of security to ensure he would never be disturbed or stolen.

In 1985, a life-size bronze statue of Wadlow was erected at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Dental Medicine.  To this day he is still affectionately known as the "Gentle Giant."

Gigantism , the disorder Wadlow suffered from, usually involves only the lower extremities, so that in most cases the head and trunk are of more or less normal size while the lower torso and legs attain extreme proportions.

Robert Wadlow had a pituitary gland tumor that secreted large amounts of growth hormone resulting in acromegalic gigantism.  Death is usually a result of heart complications due to the large volume of blood needing to be circulated.






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