What happened to Caleb Swanigan? Former NBA player looks unrecognisable in viral photo

Joshua Rogers June 21, 2022
What happened to Caleb Swanigan? Former NBA player looks unrecognisable in viral photo
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Caleb Swanigan has died according to multiple reports. The Allen County Coroner’s Office confirmed that 25-year-old Swanigan died of natural causes.

“The world lost a gentle soul last night,” Purdue said in a tribute tweet:

Caleb Swanigan is a former Big Ten Player Of The Year and played for the Purdue Boilermakers in college for two years. In the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft he was selected 26th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Swanigan was a part of the Trail Blazers for two years before being traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2019. He returned to Portland in 2020.

Last year a photo of him went viral on social media and various people, including Blazers star Damian Lillard, shared their concern.

Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

What happened to Caleb Swanigan?

In 2021, Caleb Swanigan pleaded guilty to a minor drug charge after he was arrested in December on a marijuana possession charge in his native state of Indiana.

According to a report from WANE-TV at the time: “Swanigan, 23, was pulled over around 2am on December 23, 2020, on eastbound U.S. 30 by Columbia City Police.

“During the stop, police found 3.4 pounds of marijuana in Swanigan’s vehicle, as well as $3,415 in cash and some drug paraphernalia. Swanigan was arrested and booked into the Whitley County Jail. He was released on bond.”

After the guilty plea, IndyStar reported Swanigan was given a 180-day suspended sentence with two days time served as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He would, however, avoid jail time. 

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

People react to Caleb Swanigan’s viral photo

The 2015 IndyStar Mr Basketball winner was known as “Biggie” and last played in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Swanigan appeared in 45 games with three starts over the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.

Caleb Swangian’s height was 6ft 9in and during his time with the Blazers he weighed about 260 pounds.

However, several photos of an unrecognisable Swanigan going to court went viral on social media last year, and fans couldn’t believe it was the same person.

Damain Lillard responds to viral photo

Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard appeared to speak out on Caleb Swanigan’s viral photo.

He asked for people to be supportive and not put Swanigan down:

Our thoughts are with Caleb’s friends and family at this incredibly sad time.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.