“Hey, how’s the weather up there?” “Do you play basketball?” “How far can you see?” If you’ve ever been asked any of these questions, then there is a fairly good chance that you are pretty tall. But, what exactly do we consider to be tall? In most circumstances, tall might be anywhere between 6’2” and 6’6”, but did you know that there’s an entirely different category that makes even the NBA’s tallest players look tiny?
Sure, the seven-foot-tall dunking giants of the NBA are easily some of the biggest and most popular soaring celebrities but have you ever heard of someone who surpassed even seven feet and made it to the eight-foot mark? If not, you’re not alone because there have actually only been 17 people in the entire world who have ever stood eight feet or taller!
Out of these 17 towering giants, we couldn’t help but wonder who were the tallest among the group. Aren’t you curious? Hold onto your hats as we take a look at 10 of the tallest people to ever live who are sure to make you feel ant-sized after you see these incredible photos and read their amazing stories! Let’s get started!
Bernard Coyne (8’2”)
The shortest person on our list is anything but short, if you ask us, especially since Iowa native Bernard Shaw stood at 8’2” tall. Born in 1897 as the second of six children, Coyne was diagnosed with Daddy Long Legs Syndrome as he shot up to 7’9” tall by the time the Army denied him entry into the World War I draft in 1918. Quickly attracting widespread attention as the tallest man in the world, Coyne appeared on a fair circuit but denied any further requests to put himself on exhibit.
Literally outgrowing his body, Coyne wore size 25 shoes that had to be custom made for his ever-growing feet. By September 1920, the Iowa giant’s health had begun to fail leading to his liver hardening and causing his tragically early death at just 23 years old on May 20, 1921. At the time of his death, Coyne had reached his tallest height yet at an unconfirmed 8’4” requiring his family to have a casket custom made to fit his towering and lanky frame.
Don Koehler (8’2”)
Standing at a confirmed height of 8’2”, Donald Koehler was born on September 1, 1925 in Denton, Montana to parents who were well above average height themselves as his mother stood at 5’10” and his father at 6’2”. By the age of 12, Koehler and his family relocated to Chicago where his growth spurt skyrocketed as he surpassed his twin sister in height and left his parents struggling to find him properly fitting clothing and shoes.
Desperate to avoid the “freak show business,” Koehler worked at a car dealership in his early career demonstrating the spaciousness of various car models but grew tired of doubters looking for proof of his gigantic height. After declining an offer to play with the Harlem Globetrotters, Koehler took on a new role as the biggest salesman for Big Joe Hydraulic Lifts where he spent the majority of his career. Losing much of his height over the years as a result of a spinal condition, Koehler passed away on February 26, 1981 at 55 years old and 7’10” tall, giving up his 13-year title as the tallest man in the world.
Vikas Uppal (8’2”)
Leaving the United States and traveling all the way to India, next on our list is Vikas “Vicky” Uppal whose towering height of 8’2” is disputed as various sources report him being anywhere from 8’0” to 8’10”. Hailing from Rohtak, India, Uppal was born in 1986 but his condition wasn’t reported by the media until 2004 when journalists claimed the teenager was already 8’3” tall. By 2005, new reports started rolling in that Uppal stood at an impressive 8’10”.
Despite claims to have been India’s tallest man, Uppal was never officially measured by the Guinness Book of Records due to their strict verification standards. However, India embraced Uppal’s popularity as rumors ran rampant that his hands measured over 13 inches long with his feet nearing the 20-inch mark. Unfortunately, his height was never confirmed as he died on June 30, 2007 at the age of 21 years old during an operation to remove a brain tumor.
Sultan Kosen (8’3”)
Though he comes in at number seven on our list, 33-year-old Sultan Kosen holds the Guinness World Record title as the world’s tallest living man at 8’3” and weighing 302 pounds. Born on December 10, 1982 in Mardin, Turkey and recognized as a gentle giant among his normal-sized family and friends, Kosen’s soaring height is a result of a tumor affecting his pituitary gland that requires him to use crutches to get around.
Now working part-time as a farmer after his growth spurt left him unable to finish his education, Kosen underwent an operation in 2010 at the University of Virginia where his tumor was treated to prevent future growth. At the time of the operation, doctors measured Kosen at 8’4” but the Guinness measurement from 2009 had already been recorded giving Kosen an additional record as having the world’s largest hands. In 2011, Guinness measured the towering Turk once again at 8’3” with bad posture and scoliosis as the reasons behind his shrinking height.
Edouard Beaupre (8’3”)
While most of the world’s tallest people on our list have opted to live quiet and normal lives, that is definitely not the case for Edouard Beaupre of Canada who clocked in at 8’3” and a whopping 375 pounds. Recognized as a star in the Barnum and Bailey’s circus, Beaupre was already over six feet tall by the time he was 11 years old in 1892. Reaching a lofty height of over seven feet at the age of 17, Beaupre gave up his love of horse riding in exchange for clowns, elephants and circus acts.
Getting his start in the circus by lifting horses and bending iron bars in half, Beaupre starred in sideshows as a giant while spending the rest of his time as a professional wrestler taking on some of the strongest men in the world. On July 1, 1904, the circus giant landed the gig of his life when he was selected as a promoter for the St. Louis World’s Fair. Unfortunately, tragedy struck just two days later when he fell ill and died at just 23 years old.
Väinö Myllyrinne (8’3”)
The second of only two men on our list to live past the age of 50, Finland’s Väinö Myllyrinne once held the title as the tallest living person in the world at a gigantic 8’3”. Myllyrinne was only 21 years old when he grew to an abnormal height of 7’3” and weighed over 400 pounds, becoming the tallest soldier to ever serve in the Finnish Defence Forces. His growth spurt wasn’t over, however, as his 30s brought another 12 inches and helped him reach his record breaking height.
Much like Canada’s Edouard Beaupre, Myllyrinne joined the circus in the 1930s and traveled throughout Europe as a circus performer and professional wrestler before returning to Finland to serve in the military once again. Once finished with his service in 1946, Myllyrinne bought a chicken farm which he ran until his death on April 13, 1963 at 54 years old. Recognized as the tallest person from Finland, Myllyrinne gave up his 23-year-title as the world’s tallest living man but still holds the record for the largest hands ever measured at a massive 15.7 inches.
Leonid Stadnyk (8’5”)
The first towering giant on our list from the Soviet Union (Ukraine), Leonid Stadnyk was born on August 5, 1970 and was already a large child growing up before a brain operation in 1984 made him grow even more. Developing a pituitary gland tumor much like Sultan Kosen from earlier on our list, Stadnyk literally skyrocketed to new heights as he allegedly stood 8’5” tall and wore an American size 28 shoe.
Refusing to have himself measured by the Guinness Book of Records, Stadnyk was briefly given the title as the world’s tallest man when Guinness verified the doctor’s measurements and Stadnyk confirmed his weight at 440 pounds. Despite receiving a clean bill of health from his doctors in 2004, Stadnyk wasn’t in the clear as his health began to deteriorate in early 2010 leaving him weak and unable to stand without help. Stadnyk died just weeks after his 44th birthday on August 25, 2014 of a brain hemorrhage.
John F. Carroll (8’8”)
Returning to the United States for the top three tallest people in the world, the first of the three is John F. Carroll of Buffalo, New York. Born in 1932 and seeing his first major growth spurt at the age of 16, Carroll grew so fast that he developed severe scoliosis. Known medically as the Buffalo Giant, Carroll was measured in 1959 at 8 feet 7.75 inches tall, however the curvature of his spine was so extreme that his standing height was actually measured at an even 8’0”.
Continuing to grow even as an adult, Carroll once grew seven inches in a matter of months which only worsened his spinal condition. In 1968, he was obviously shrinking as he measured at 7 feet 10.5 inches tall with his actual height projected to be near nine feet and his weight at just over 300 pounds. By the following year, Carroll had shrunk yet again to just over 7’8” when he passed away at the age of 37 in Lackawanna, New York.
John Rogan (8’9”)
Coming in at number two on our list is Tennessee native John Rogan who reached an incredible height of 8’9” tall. If John F. Carroll was thin for his lanky frame then Rogan was a twig as he weighed only 175 pounds, an average weight for a man nearly three feet shorter. The fourth of 12 children, Rogan was born in 1865 and saw a massive growth spurt at the age of 13 that required him to rely on crutches to stand and walk.
Unable to walk by the age of 17, Rogan reached 8’6” by 1899 and was well on his way to becoming a celebrity thanks to his easy-going attitude and recognizable deep voice. Needing to earn money for his family, Rogan spent his days in the train station selling portraits of himself as a popular self-made attraction though he declined all offers to join the circus. With his growth continuing, Rogan’s declining health led to his death on September 12, 1905 at 40 years old. To preserve his memory, his body was buried in the family yard under concrete to prevent others from exhuming and examining his 8’9” frame.
Robert Wadlow (8’11”)
Easily making everyone else on the list seem short, Robert Wadlow almost reached the nine-foot tall mark with his incredible height of 8’11.1” making him the tallest man in the world. Hailing from Illinois and born in 1918 as the eldest of five children, Wadlow’s father stood at 5’11” but the recurring story of a pituitary gland tumor is what caused this towering giant to keep growing. Standing at 8’4” tall by the time he was 18 years old, Wadlow had high hopes of pursuing a career in law before his health cut his dreams short.
Wadlow’s size began taking its toll as he lost feeling in his legs and feet, which required him to use leg braces to walk. Giving up on his career in law, Wadlow turned to the Ringling Brothers Circus where he became a celebrity known for his strength and height throughout the late 1930s. Officially measured just 18 days before his death, Wadlow suffered from an infection caused by a faulty ankle brace and blood transfusion that led to his death on July 15, 1940 at just 22 years old.