Former Trail Blazers player and ‘gentle soul’ Caleb Swanigan dies aged 25

Caleb Swanigan, who played in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings, has died at the age of 25.

The Allen County Coroners Office confirmed to local news outlet WANE 15 that Swanigan had died of natural causes.

“Our thoughts and prayers to Caleb Swanigan’s family and friends. The world lost a gentle soul last night. Love you Biggie,” wrote Purdue, his college team, on Twitter.

Swanigan had an unsettled childhood and spent time in homeless shelters before he was adopted by former Detroit Lions star turned sports agent Roosevelt Barnes. Swanigan had struggled with his weight growing up, and weighed 360lb as a 13-year-old, but Barnes encouraged him to pursue his talent as a basketball player and by the time he finished high school he was 6ft 9in and 260lb.

He went on to attend Barnes’ alma mater, Purdue, and was selected as the No26 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Alongside his basketball career at Purdue, Swanigan was an excellent student and graduated with a diploma in educational history.

“Work ethic & competitiveness were unmatched,” wrote his former teammate, Ryan Cline, on Twitter. “No one was in the same ballpark as this dude. So much fun to be around. My boy forever. Fly high Big, you’ll be missed by so many brother.”

Swanigan last played in the NBA for Portland in the 2019-20 season.