On February 22, 1918, a perfectly normal 8.7-pound boy was born to Harold and Addie Wadlow of Alton, Illinois. By his first birthday, Robert Wadlow weighed 45 pounds and stood 3 feet, 3.5 inches. A hyperactive pituitary gland fueled his extraordinary growth.
Wadlow broke the record for world's tallest man when he reached 8 feet, 4 inches in 1937. In 1940, a faulty brace rubbing against his ankle caused a blister, which became badly infected. On July 15, 1940, Robert passed away at the age of 22. Eighteen days earlier, doctors had measured his height at 8 feet, 11.1 inches (2.72 m).