Igor Vovkovinskiy, America's tallest man who wore $16,000 specially made shoes, dies at 38

Igor Vovkovinskiy attained a celebrity status when he arrived from Ukraine to the US because of his size


                            Igor Vovkovinskiy, America's tallest man who wore $16,000 specially made shoes, dies at 38
(Genevieve Ross/Getty Images)

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: The tallest man in the United States, Igor Vovkovinskiy passed away in Minnesota on Friday, August 20. He was 38 years old. Igor's family informed that he died of heart disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Igor's mother, Svetlana Vovkovinska was the first one to break out the news of his demise when she posted about it on Facebook.

Ukraine-born Igor Vovkovinskiy was the tallest man in the US at 7 feet, 8.33 inches (2 meters, 34.5 centimeters). Reportedly, a tumor pressing against Igor's pituitary gland caused it to secrete abnormal levels of growth hormone. His brother, Oleh Ladan said that Igor attained a celebrity status because of his size when he arrived from Ukraine to the US. However, Ladan also noted Vovkovinskiy "would have rather lived a normal life than be known". Ladan also said that his brother's health problems worsened over the recent years.

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Vovkovinskiy appeared on 'The Dr Oz Show'. In 2009, he was called out by President Barack Obama during a campaign rally near the stage wearing a T-shirt that read, "World’s Biggest Obama Supporter". Vovkovinskiy was declared America’s tallest living person by a Guinness World Records adjudicator on Oz’s show when he was 27. He was featured in the 2007 show, 'Inside Extraordinary Humans: The Science of Gigantism'. In 2012, he made a plea on Facebook to cover the massive cost of specially-made shoes for him worth $16000. He noted at the time that he hadn’t owned a pair for years that fit his size 26, 10E feet. After his plea made news, he received more than double what he needed in donations. Later, Reebok provided him with the custom shoes for free.

When Vovkovinskiy was 29, he appeared on '60 Minutes Australia' and said it was a different experience every day to look at the world from his height. "I always have to think about: Am I endangering my life? Nothing is built for my size so everything is a challenge," he said. On '60 Minutes', Igor Vovkovinskiy's mother said he was 11 pounds at birth, and by the time he was 6, he was 6 feet tall. According to Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home, Igor Vovkovinskiy was born on September 8, 1982, in Bar, Ukraine. The funeral home is holding a memorial service on Saturday, August 28. Igor Vovkovinskiy is survived by his brother, niece, nephew, mother and step sister. 

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