Former NBA Player Caleb Swanigan Dead At 25
Caleb Swanigan of the Portland Trailblazers poses for a portrait during the 2017 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at MSG Training Center on August 11, 2017 in Greenburgh, New York.
Elsa/Getty Images

Caleb Swanigan, a former first-round NBA draft pick and Purdue University first-team consensus All-American, has died at the age of 25.

His family confirmed Swanigan’s death, which has been attributed to natural causes according to the Allen County Coroner’s Office, on Tuesday.

“The Purdue basketball family is deeply saddened and devastated at the loss of Caleb Swanigan,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said in a statement.

“Caleb was a very thoughtful individual and a gentle soul who excelled both on and off the court. He made a huge difference in everyone’s lives that he touched and he will be greatly missed,” he added.

The Purdue Men’s Basketball Twitter account also expressed its condolences over Swanigan’s death.

“Devastated. Our thoughts and prayers to Caleb Swanigan’s family and friends. The world lost a gentle soul last night,” it noted. “Love you Biggie.”

The young star was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, selected 26th overall. He was named to the First Team during the 2017 NBA Summer League and played two seasons before being traded to the Sacramento Kings.

Swanigan later returned to the Trail Blazers following a January 2020 trade before being released after the 2020 season.

Swanigan previously starred as a top college athlete at Purdue University. Purdue Sports noted that during the 2016-2017 season, “Swanigan had one of the most dominant seasons in college basketball history, earning first-team consensus All-America and Big Ten Player of the Year accolades. He was a finalist for the Wooden, Naismith and Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Awards and was named the recipient of the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year Award.”

His final season with Purdue also included setting a Big Ten record with 28 double-doubles, the 13th most by a player in NCAA history, Purdue Sports stated. Swanigan was also only the eighth player in Big Ten history to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding.

His college jersey number, 50, was retired by the team following his move to the NBA.

In high school, he was awarded the honor of Indiana’s Mr. Basketball and led his Homestead team to a 2015 state championship. He left high school ranked ninth among ESPN’s Top 100 recruits in 2015.

Swanigan’s personal story was both difficult and inspiring. CBS Sports reported that, “Swanigan’s father, Carl, died from diabetes-related causes in 2014, prior to Caleb enrolling at Purdue. Swanigan’s path to Purdue was carved when former Purdue star Roosevelt Barnes, who coached Swanigan in grassroots basketball, took him in and became his guardian in Fort Wayne, Indiana.”

The report also noted that Barnes adopted Swanigan during his teen years, claiming the decision “led Swanigan down a path in basketball that turned him into one of the best high school prospects in the country.”

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