At 7 feet 8 inches, Broc Brown definitely sticks out in a crowd, and he’s only going to get bigger.
Brown’s family knew something was up at a young age: He was 5-foot-2 in kindergarten, according to his mother, Darci Elliot.
“When he got into middle school he was around 6 feet tall, and by high school he was 7 feet tall,” Elliot told Barcroft TV. “It’s a genetic disorder and there’s nothing that can stop him from growing – I don’t know if he will ever stop.”
Brown, 19, grows an astounding six inches a year because of a rare genetic disorder called Sotos syndrome, or cerebral gigantism. The condition reportedly affects 1 in 14,000 newborns, but the National Institutes of Health says the number may be closer to 1 in 5,000, since not everyone who has it is properly diagnosed.
Kids with the syndrome tend to grow quickly in younger years and have unusually large heads, but their adult height is often in the normal range. That makes Brown a rarity among rarities.
Other symptoms include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and an explosive temper.
Brown has both, his mother said.
“When he gets mad, he’s mad. It wouldn’t take him two seconds to pop a hole in the wall ― it could be very dangerous if he wasn’t on medication and able to be calmed,” Elliot told Barcroft TV. “But overall, he is a big softie, his heart is as big as his body.”
Brown is in constant pain because of other issues, including curvature of the spine and narrowing of the spinal cord. He was born with only one kidney, which means he can’t take painkillers.
“It kind of feels like a big tennis racket has gone through my back,” he told Barcroft.
Dr. John Pappas, director of NYU Clinical Genetic Services and associate professor of pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center, said there is no cure for Sotos syndrome and treatments address only the symptoms, not the cause.
“We don’t have a specific kind of medication that can control the overgrowth of protein,” Pappas told HuffPost.
Pappas, who hasn’t treated Brown, said factors beyond Sotos syndrome may be causing Brown’s non-stop growth.
The teen’s trajectory has been financially challenging for his family.
“There’s a lot of things that are hard, like finding shoes for him, finding clothes,” Elliot told local station WILX-TV in 2013. Nike helped by donating a pair of size 24 shoes.
Brown’s size has helped him reach a certain height of fame.
Previously, he held the Guinness World Record for tallest male under the age of 18. He outgrew that honor when he reached legal age. Kevin Bradford of Doral, Florida, who stands 7-feet-1, now holds that honor.
Brown doesn’t seem concerned about being the world’s tallest man. He’d be happy with a normal, comfortable existence.
“I hopefully want to work for a sporting goods store or something like that, a cashier or something,” he said. “I just want to have my own job.”