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He was born on 22nd February in 1918 in Alton, Illinois (USA). He was the first of five children to his parents, Harold and Addie Wadlow. They went on to have two more boys and two girls. Amazingly, both his brothers and sisters were only of normal height and weight. Robert’s own weight when he was born was nothing out of the ordinary at 3.85 kg (8 lb 8 oz). In fact, for the first two years of his life, his growth rate was normal. When he reached the age of two, he had to have a double hernia operation. It’s impossible to say if there was a connection to that, but since then, things started to change dramatically.
His rate of growth increased remarkably. By the time he was 5 years old, he reached a height of 1.63 metres (5 feet 4 inches) and he became 6 feet tall by the time he was only 8 years old. For the next 4 years he grew an average of 2.5 inches per year until he was 12, when his height reached 2.10 metres (6 feet 10.5 inches).
In the next 3 years, his growth rate accelerated even further. He grew another 24 cm (9.5 inches) so that he was 2.34 metres (7 feet 8 inches) by the time he was 15 years old. For the 2 years after that, his speed of growth slowed down slightly to just over 2 inches per year. When he was 17, his height was 2.45 metres (8 feet 0.38 inches), but he just couldn’t stop growing.
In the following year, he grew a further 8 cm (just over 3 inches), but just 2 inches the year after that. He was now 19 years of age and his height was 2.58 metres (8 feet 5.5 inches).
In the next 2 years, his growth rate decreased to its slowest rate for quite some time, but still he grew. When his teenage years came to an end, his height reached 2.61 metres (8 feet 6.75 inches). He was 2.65 metres (8 feet 8.25 inches) tall when he was 21. His last recorded measurement was 2.72 metres (8 feet 11.1 inches) when he was 22 years and 5 months old.
As you can imagine, he couldn’t walk around in public without attracting attention. People would inevitably stare and crowds would congregate around him. Some people, rather unkindly, would kick or pinch his legs to check that he wasn’t on stilts.
His extreme height obviously made life difficult for him. He couldn’t function like people of a normal height can. He couldn’t go on a bus, a train or an aeroplane. Seats were only made for people who were 6 feet or under. He was healthy despite all that, but he did suffer circulation problems in his legs and didn’t have much feeling in his feet.
He wasn’t only the tallest man ever, but he also had the largest hands and feet ever. His new york yankees zip up hoodie had to be specially made, as did his clothes. His shoe size was 36 (37AA for USA measurements), they were 47 cm (18.5 inches) long.
Human growth is caused by a hormone called “somatotropin”, the source of it is provided by the “pituitary gland”. When he was 12 years old, doctors found that this gland had become over-active, which was causing his abnormal growth. His parents were advised that corrective surgery would be risky with no guarantee of success, so they decided against it.
Robert sadly died in his sleep on 15th July 1940. He was buried in his home town. His coffin was 3.28 metres (10 feet 9 inches) long and had to be carried by 12 men. The town closed for business out of respect and more than 40,000 people signed the register at his funeral.
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write by Miranda