Former Purdue basketball All-American Caleb Swanigan dies at 25

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Caleb "Biggie" Swanigan, one of the top players in the history of Purdue’s basketball program, has died. Swanigan was 25.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, TV station, WANE, said the Allen County Corner’s Office confirmed Swanigan died of natural causes.

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

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Swanigan, who battled weight issues and was homeless as a child before being adopted, came to Purdue in 2015 after being named Indiana Mr. Basketball. He played two seasons with the Boilermakers and was a consensus first-team All-American, earning the Big Ten Player of the Year honor in 2017.

Caleb Swanigan dunks against New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2016. (John Terhune, Journal & Courier)
Caleb Swanigan dunks against New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2016. (John Terhune, Journal & Courier)

Swanigan was one of five finalists for the Wooden Award, along with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Villanova’s Josh Hart, Frank Mason of Kansas and Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss.

Although he was at Purdue for two years, Swanigan received his diploma in Educational History.

Following his college career, Swanigan played two seasons in Portland, appearing in 45 games after being drafted No. 26th overall by the Trail Blazers in the 2017 NBA draft. He was traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2019, making 10 appearances, before Portland re-acquired him in early 2020.

Swanigan was last in the news in 2021 after the former Homestead star pleaded guilty to a minor drug charge in Whitley County. He was sentenced to 180 days suspended. He was ordered to complete a substance abuse evaluation and comply with any prescribed treatment.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Caleb Swanigan, former Purdue basketball All-American, dies at 25