On Thursday night, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted two new players. One of them, Caleb Swanigan, is considered by some pundits to be the best college basketball big man in the nation.
He also has the most startling life story of any NBA player in some time.
Caleb Swanigan, a power forward from Purdue University, grew up in a family of six that lived in poverty in Indiana and Utah, spending time in at least five different homeless shelters. By age 13, Swanigan weighed 360 pounds and was given the nickname "Biggie."
Those two hardships weren't coincidental.
"He had a sweet tooth early on," notes a Purdue biography, "loved ice cream and junk food, and uncertain when or where his next meal might come from, he would eat as much as he could whenever he could."
There's plenty to read about Swanigan's turnaround. When Purdue made the NCAA Sweet 16 last year, few sportswriters could resist the lure of a human-interest column. But perhaps the best summary is this CBS News report—just two minutes of your time, and frankly rather moving.
For a longer and more detailed look on what changed Swanigan's life, the official Purdue video is also pretty great.
So what are Swanigan's prospects in Portland? Analysts generally don't think Swanigan, 20, is likely to ever crack the Blazers' starting five—but maybe this isn't the guy to underestimate.