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Tallest man in the US dies at 38

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Mr Vovkovinskiy cheers as Barack Obama arrives at a presidential election rally in 2009. Photo: Getty
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Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in the US, has died in Minnesota aged 38.

His family said the Ukrainian-born Mr Vovkovinskiy died of heart disease on Friday (local time) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

His mother, Svetlana Vovkovinska, an ICU nurse at Mayo, initially posted about his death on Facebook.

Mr Vovkovinskiy went to the Mayo Clinic in 1989 as a child seeking treatment. A tumour pressing against his pituitary gland caused it to secrete abnormal levels of growth hormone.

He grew to become the tallest man in the US, at 2.345 metres (7 foot 7 inches).

His older brother, Oleh Ladan of Brooklyn Park, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that Mr Vovkovinskiy was a celebrity when he arrived from Ukraine because of his size and the flickering Cold War of the late 1980s.

But Mr Ladan said Mr Vovkovinskiy “would have rather lived a normal life than be known”.

When he was 27, Mr Vovkovinskiy travelled to New York City and was declared America’s tallest living person by a Guinness World Records adjudicator on The Dr Oz Show.

He edged out a sheriff’s deputy in Virginia by 8 millimetres.

He was called out by then US president Barack Obama during a campaign rally in 2009, when Mr Obama noticed him near the stage wearing a T-shirt that read, “World’s biggest Obama supporter”.

He issued a plea in 2012 to cover the estimated $US16,000 ($A22,300) cost for shoes that would not cause him crippling pain.

He said he had not owned a pair for years that fit his size 26, 10E feet. Thousands donated more than double what he needed. Reebok provided the custom shoes free.

Mr Vovkovinskiy was born September 8, 1982, in Bar, Ukraine, to Ms Vovkovinska and Oleksandr Ladan. His father died earlier.