Tallest Living American Makes Trip To Target Center
Web Editorial Associate
The Minnesota Timberwolves' biggest fan finally got a chance to watch his team in comfort on Sunday night.
Igor Vovkovinskiy, a Rochester, Minn. resident, stands 7-foot-8—big enough to be named the tallest person in the United States.
As a consequence of his large frame, Vovkovinskiy has been unable to fit in standard Target Center seats for the last six or seven years. But through coordination with the Timberwolves' front office, a special suite had been altered to accommodate Vovkovinskiy for Sunday's game against the Warriors.
Vovkovinskiy got the chance to meet several players during pregame, including Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic. "That's the first time (Pekovic) has looked small standing next to someone," joked a fan from the stands.
While on the court, all eyes were on Vovkovinskiy. Opposing Warriors players came over to take a photo, one of which was guard Nate Robinson (who, listed at 5'9", is nearly a full two feet shorter than Vovkovinskiy).
If you thought Kevin Love's size-19 shoes were large, consider that Vovkovinskiy wears a size 26. According to Vovkovinskiy, shoes that big are nearly impossible to find, and his hunt for appropriate footwear has given him issues throughout his life.
"I tried basketball," said Vovkovinskiy, "But after 5th or 6th grade, nobody could make shoes for me. I had to stop playing."
Vovkovinskiy has undergone 16 foot surgeries, resulting in a total of three years of bedrest. His current shoes, although functional, are terribly inadequate for his needs.
"This is basically it," said Vovkovinskiy, pointing to his worn-down, black leather shoes. "They have no support, no grip. On the ice, these things are basically suicide. They're flat, and they don't have any curve. It's incredibly hard to walk on them."
After speaking with Reebok, Vovkovinskiy was told that a custom pair of shoes would require a complete foot scan and a custom mold of his feet. The price estimate —$16,000 —was intimidating.
"The price that I was quoted for was so high," said Vovkovinskiy. "It's not just for the shoes; it's also for the process of scanning the foot, because I've had so many surgeries. Each foot is very different. There are scars, and they need to know where the arches are. That whole process takes $16,000, and we would never be able to afford something like that."
Vovkovinskiy wrote to media outlets like Oprah and Dr. Phil, but received no response. After the urging of friends, he took his campaign to Facebook.
"Enough friends told me to ask for help, and the turnout was amazing," said Vovkovinskiy of his online fund. The public donations ended up totaling double of what he needed.
"I hope to get some boots, some sandals. I'm so excited."
News like that is relief for a man who has had a very eventful month of April, between finding quality footwear and finally being able to watch his favorite basketball team in comfort.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.