Former Portland Trail Blazers first round draft pick, Purdue All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year, Caleb Swanigan has died at the age of 25. Swanigan died on Monday night of natural causes at a Fort Wayne hospital according to the Allen County coroner’s office. The Purdue men’s basketball official Twitter account sent a tweet to honor the former Boilermaker.
Our thoughts and prayers to Caleb Swanigan’s family and friends. The world lost a gentle soul last night.
Love you Biggie. pic.twitter.com/spU2hQtJdi
— Purdue Men's Basketball (@BoilerBall) June 21, 2022
Swanigan grew up in Indianapolis and was named Indiana “Mr. Basketball,” a Parade and McDonald’s high school All-American in 2015.
He went on to play for Purdue where he had a standout sophomore season. Swanigan earned First-team All Big Ten, Big Ten Player of the year, and First-team All American honors.
The 6’9 260 pound star was selected 26th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.
We are heartbroken by the passing of former Trail Blazers player Caleb Swanigan. Our thoughts and prayers are with Caleb’s family, friends and all who loved him.
Rest In Peace, Biggie. pic.twitter.com/QxiGMZi5cg
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) June 21, 2022
Swanigan bounced between the G League and the Trail Blazers during his first year and a half in the league, and on February 7, 2019 was traded to the Sacramento Kings.
On January 20, 2020 he was traded back to the Trail Blazers and played his last game in the NBA that year. When the league paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restarted in the summer of 2020 at the Disney bubble in Orlando, Swanigan opted not to join the team for personal reasons.
During a traffic stop in 2020 a search of Swanigan’s vehicle uncovered three pounds of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to the minor possession charge and didn’t serve any jail time.
Swanigan apparently struggled after he stopped playing, as there were signs of dramatic weight gain and concern for his health by those close to him. Weight fluctuation was something he struggled with his entire life as his father was prone to obesity as well.
Trail Blazers star and former teammate Damian Lillard came to the aid of Swanigan online when someone posted an unflattering image of Swanigan.
“If you gone post this s*** with real concern that’s cool. But don’t ask ‘how does one go from this to that’ … he clearly having real life issues. That’s how… you don’t know WHAT it is he’s going through to cause a drastic change. If you gone be supportive then do that but don’t ask no s*** like that like it’s not possible when you naturally a big dude and go down a dark road.”
Never forget when @Dame_Lillard put a heckler in his place once he attacked Caleb Swanigan on social media.
Dame will forever be a real one ✊ pic.twitter.com/lEOKvbKixy
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 21, 2022
Swanigan, nicknamed “Biggie” by friends and teammates was extremely well liked and that was reflected in the outpouring of condolences on Tuesday. His former head coach at Purdue, Matt Painter, issued a statement via Twitter.
“Biggie had a positive influence in everyone’s life. Was such a thoughtful person and gentle soul who had to overcome so much in his life. He will be greatly missed.”
Terribly saddened by this. Biggie had a positive influence in everyone’s life. Was such a thoughtful person and gentle soul who had to overcome so much in his life.
He will be greatly missed. https://t.co/Ivm5MiaCUm
— Purdue’s Matt Painter (@CoachPainter) June 21, 2022
The NBA family is profoundly saddened by the passing of Caleb Swanigan, who played three seasons in the NBA after a decorated career at Purdue. We send our heartfelt condolences to Caleb’s family, friends, and former teammates. pic.twitter.com/8DGrg3ePW7
— NBA (@NBA) June 21, 2022
Swanigan was also a rapper under the stage name “Slyy5jackk.” Further details surrounding his death and his last days will likely emerge in the weeks to come.
At 25 Swanigan was nowhere near the person he was going to become, he had a lot of life still to go. Just another harsh reminder to all of the fragility of life.