As a child, Caleb and his mother bounced around from homeless shelter to homeless shelter in Indianapolis. When his mother gave up parental rights in 2011, Caleb was adopted by recently-divorced father, Roosevelt Barnes.
“It allowed me to have someone in the house that I could love again really,” Barnes told CBS Sunday Morning’s Steve Hartman.
Caleb’s chaotic early life led to bad eating habits and a massive weight gain. As an eighth-grader, Swanigan topped the scales at 360 pounds.
“It is a lot more expensive to eat healthy than it is to eat unhealthy,” Swanigan said in an interview with ESPN. “If you’re in a position to eat right, then you should eat right. Sometimes, financially, it just isn’t right.”
This is Caleb Swanigan (in the yellow shirt) in 8th grade, working out with his brother, Carl Jr. “Biggie” has changed his body and life. pic.twitter.com/636PYasQj4
— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) January 24, 2017
Once he found a stable home environment with Barnes, Caleb revealed to his new adoptive father his desire to play basketball. A former professional football player, Barnes encouraged his son to overcome and conquer his obesity and achieve his hardwood dreams.
“When he couldn’t jump over a piece of paper, I was telling him ‘you’re great, you’re the best power forward in the world,’” Barnes told Hartman. “I was speaking faith. Faith is a substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen,” he added.
“I guess he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at that point,” Swanigan said.
Under his father’s tutelage, Caleb succeeded in shedding pounds, became a stud on the basketball court, and excelled in the classroom. As a sophomore, his 3.3 GPA recently earned him the honor of Academic All-American.
His past life on the streets still fresh in his mind, Caleb is grateful for his change of fortune.
“It feels like I’ve had two lives really,” he told Hartman. “Like I died and then had a reincarnation.”
(Photo credit: CBS News)