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Former Purdue standout, NBA player Caleb Swanigan dies at age 25

Caleb Swanigan with Portland Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OREGON - FEBRUARY 06: Caleb Swanigan #50 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs during their game at Moda Center on February 06, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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Caleb Swanigan overcame obesity and homelessness to become an All-American at Purdue and an NBA player. Though his pro career didn’t turn out as hoped, those are tremendous accomplishments.

Tragically, though, Swanigan has died at age 25.


Swanigan built himself into a first-round prospect at Purdue, and the Trail Blazers drafted him No. 26 in 2017. He got traded back and forth between Portland and Sacramento over the next couple years. When the Trail Blazers reacquired him in 2020, Portland players really embraced him returning – which said something about his likability. However, the NBA suspended its season a short time later, and Swanigan opted not to join the Trail Blazers in the bubble. He didn’t play in the NBA again.

When a picture emerged last year of Swanigan looking heavier, Damian Lillard criticized those looking voyeuristically and called for more empathy toward Swanigan and what he was going through.