Former Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan has reportedly died at age 25, according to a Fort Wayne TV station.

The Allen County coroner’s office reportedly confirmed that Swanigan died of natural causes.

During his two years at Purdue, Swanigan studied general education and educational studies. He graduated in 2019.

"The Purdue basketball family is deeply saddened and devastated at the loss of Caleb Swanigan," head coach Matt Painter said in a news release Tuesday morning. "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."

Swanigan was the 2017 Big Ten Player of the Year and was a candidate for the Wooden Award, the national award for the best college basketball player.

He left for the NBA Draft in 2017 and was picked 26th overall by the Portland Trailblazers.

Caleb "Biggie" Swanigan would have never made it to Purdue without his adoptive father, Roosevelt Barnes, alongside him.

When he left West Lafayette for the challenging terrain that is the NBA, the man who helped him overcome obesity and gave him a home is guiding him into the world of professional basketball, according to previous Exponent reporting.

Barnes emphasized to the Exponent that Swanigan was torn between testing his game at the next level and wanting to finish his degree, Barnes said. 

“It was a very close, tough decision for him,” Barnes said at the time.”

But in the end, the challenge of testing his talents in the NBA was just too alluring. And that challenge will be a big one, Barnes said then, but he knows Swanigan is more than capable of meeting it.

“He’s just scratching the surface of how good he’s going to be,” he said. “So I’m proud of where he is, but I know he can be so much better.”

About 15 teams were interested in the 6-foot-8-inch rebounding workhorse.

Swanigan was Purdue's first early entrant in the NBA Draft since Glenn Robinson in 1994.

Swanigan played in the NBA for three years. playing with the Trail Blazers and the Sacramento Kings.

Swanigan's story was one of early hardship and homelessness before he was adopted by former Purdue player Roosevelt Barnes. Read our earlier story here.

Originally published on purdueexponent.org, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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