At 7-foot-9, he may become the tallest college basketball player ever

Olivier Rioux, once the record holder as the tallest teenager in the world, is now listed on the University of Florida’s men’s basketball roster.

Olivier Rioux, once the record holder as the tallest teenager in the world, is now listed on the University of Florida’s men’s basketball roster. (Hrvoje Jelavic, Sipa USA via AP)


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — At eight years old, he was 6-foot-1. By sixth grade, he was almost 7 feet tall. And now, as an incoming college freshman, he's listed at 7-foot-9 — and poised to be the tallest college basketball player ever.

Olivier Rioux, once the record holder as the tallest teenager in the world, is now listed on the University of Florida's men's basketball roster after committing to the Gators last fall. At the time, according to recruiting site 247sports, the Montreal native and three-star recruit was just 7-foot-6 tall.

At 18, he may still be growing. Rioux's listed height tops former record bearer Paul Sturgess, who was 7-foot-8 and played for both Florida Tech and Mountain State from 2007 to 2011. And, if Rioux makes it to the NBA, he'll become the tallest NBA player ever, too.

Rioux hasn't publicly commented on the record, but he has been open in the past about enjoying his tall stature. In an interview with Guinness as a 16-year-old, the Canadian said he likes being noticed and interacting with people because of his height. He sees everything from a higher angle, he said, which "gives me an advantage during a game."

"I was always taller than the rest of my friends at school or teammates," he said. "This is what nature planned for me. I learned to be peaceful and happy about it."

Rioux comes from a tall family, making his height slightly less of an outlier. His dad is 6-foot-8, and his mom is 6-foot-2, according to Guinness.

"We're still not 100% sure why I'm so tall … doctors could only explain it with the genetics that my family has," he said.

Still, there are some downsides to his towering over the rest of society. He has some trouble finding clothes, he said, and has banged his head on a few door frames. Ouch.

Rioux started playing basketball at the age of 5, and even then his height led opposing teams to question his age. In high school, his opponents didn't hold back during games, he said — sometimes challenging Rioux more because of his size.

Yet even at his lofty height, Rioux still isn't the tallest man in the world. That honor belongs to Sultan Kösen, a Turkish farmer. He stands almost 8'3" tall.

Olivier Rioux plays in a tournament in Croatia in June 2023, when he was several inches shorter. He's set to play for the University of Florida this fall.
Olivier Rioux plays in a tournament in Croatia in June 2023, when he was several inches shorter. He's set to play for the University of Florida this fall. (Photo: Hrvoje Jelavic, Sipa USA via AP)

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Leah Asmelash

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