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Sun Mingming: The Tallest Basketball Player’s Journey

Sun Mingming, the tallest professional basketball player in history, has a story that goes beyond his extraordinary height. Born on August 23, 1983, in Harbin, China, Mingming grew up in a lower-class, rural segment of the town, which limited his access to resources for playing basketball. It wasn’t until he was 15 that he started playing the game, but once he did, he quickly became enamored with it.

His growth spurt lasted until he was 22 years old, reaching a towering height of 7’9. Mingming aspired to make it to the NBA and moved to the United States to prepare for the 2005 NBA draft. However, despite his remarkable stature, he lacked the necessary fundamentals, endurance, and strength, which hindered his chances of making it to the league.

Mingming’s Basketball Pursuit

Despite not being drafted, Mingming remained optimistic about his NBA dreams. However, in 2005, he discovered a benign tumor attached to his pituitary gland, resulting in acromegaly. His burgeoning fame helped raise funds for the necessary surgery, and on September 26, 2005, the tumor was successfully removed.

After the surgery, Mingming continued to pursue his basketball career, playing for various semi-professional leagues such as the USBL, ABA, IBL, and the Mexican basketball league. His tenure in the Mexican league showed promise, but his career was hampered by the need for foot surgery.

From Basketball to Acting

Despite the challenges in his basketball career, Mingming’s association with the Harlem Globetrotters led to mainstream appeal and acting opportunities. He made his acting debut in ‘Rush Hour 3’ and went on to accumulate several acting credits, showcasing his versatility beyond the basketball court.

In 2013, Mingming married Xu Yan, breaking a Guinness World Record as the tallest living married couple. Their combined height of 13 feet and 10.72 inches made headlines, solidifying Mingming’s unique place in history.

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The Challenges of Exceptional Height

While society often expects exceptionally tall individuals to excel in basketball, the reality is far more complex. The stories of other towering individuals like Gheorghe Muresan, Manute Bol, Neil Fingleton, Paul Sturgess, Robert Bobroczky, Bob Wegner, and Kenny George highlight the challenges faced by such individuals in pursuing a career in professional basketball.

These individuals, like Mingming, encountered various obstacles such as health issues, lack of agility, and struggles to find a suitable place in the competitive basketball landscape.


1. Did Sun Mingming ever play in the NBA?

No, despite his aspirations, Mingming did not make it to the NBA due to a lack of fundamental skills and physical limitations.

2. What is Sun Mingming’s tallest world record?

Sun Mingming and his wife, Xu Yan, hold the Guinness World Record for the tallest living married couple, with a combined height of 13 feet and 10.72 inches.

3. What challenges did Sun Mingming face in his basketball career?

Mingming faced challenges such as lack of endurance, strength, and agility, along with health issues, which impacted his basketball journey.

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4. What is Sun Mingming’s contribution beyond basketball?

Aside from basketball, Mingming ventured into acting, accumulating several acting credits and gaining mainstream appeal.

5. How did Sun Mingming’s personal life contribute to his legacy?

Mingming’s marriage to Xu Yan and their Guinness World Record for the tallest living married couple added another dimension to his unique place in history.

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