Imagine how baffled his parents, Addie and Harold Wadlow, were in 1919 when their 1-year-old son grew to 3’3.5? inches right before their eyes.
The cause of Robert’s height was abnormally high levels of human growth hormone. Year after year, Robert broke record after record until he toured with the Ringling Bros. Circus as the tallest man in the world.
No one in recorded history has topped Robert’s height. While his height caused health issues that made his legs weak and require leg braces, Robert never needed a wheelchair.
Robert’s family referred to him affectionately as the “Gentle Giant” because, though he was enormous, he had a friendly, joyful demeanor.
Robert Wadlow was born on February 22, 1918. He was an ordinary baby, weighing 8.7 pounds, born to Addie and Harold Wadlow of Alton, IL.
Little did they know their precious son would grow to be the tallest man who ever lived. This is a photo of Robert at 10 years old standing next to his father.
His parents realized something was strange by his first birthday, when he stood at 3’3.5? and weighed 45 pounds.
By age 13 he was 7’4?. Pictured with his brothers above, at 17 he was already taller than 8?.
Robert was diagnosed with hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. An abnormally high level of human growth hormone caused him to grow at an exponential pace.
By 1937 he reached a whopping height of 8’4?, making him the tallest man in the world. By the time he died, at the young age of 22, he stood at 8’11?, making him the tallest man in recorded history.
No one has ever surpassed Robert Wadlow’s height. When he passed away in 1940, due to an infection, doctors were stunned to discover he was still growing.
Robert was buried in a 1,000-pound casket that required a dozen pallbearers and eight assistants to carry it. He is forever immortalized in a bronze statue in his hometown of Alton, IL.
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