In 1918, Robert Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois. Standing 8’11” tall, he was the tallest person in the world. Wadlow’s height was the result of a rare condition called gigantism, caused by a tumor on his pituitary gland. As he grew, Wadlow’s limbs became disproportionately long and he had to wear specially made clothes and use a wheelchair.
Wadlow’s fame led to him being featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and he toured with the Ringling Brothers circus. He also set a number of world records, including the tallest man ever.
However, gigantism is a progressive condition and Wadlow’s health began to decline. He died at the age of 22 from an infection caused by a blister on his ankle.
Today, the tallest man in the world is Sultan Kösen of Turkey, who stands 8’3″ tall. Kösen suffers from the same condition as Wadlow, but thanks to modern medicine, he is able to lead a relatively normal life.