Paul Wight, known as "The Big Show," was always a big guy — but he wasn't always a big deal.
The 7'0" WWE superstar had humble beginnings in Aiken, S.C., where his height worked to his advantage in athletics.
Wight, like Andre the Giant before him, suffered from acromegaly, a disorder in which the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone. As a result, by age 12 he was 6'2" and already had plenty of chest hair.
Wight's size helped him earn accolades in high school, where he played tight end on the football team and center for basketball, he told Sports Illustrated. He later played basketball for Wichita State University and for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
He eventually returned to Wichita – a city he said was always good to him – where he got his big break in a pretty unlikely way.
"I got hired to move karaoke equipment in Wichita, Kansas," Wight, 46, told Fox News. "Drove a semi from Wichita to Chicago. Hung out with a guy doing karaoke shows for two months. Met Danny Bonaduce, introduced me to Hulk Hogan and that was that."
"I met Hulk Hogan December '94, February '95 I had a contract with WCW," he recalled. "October '95, I beat Hulk Hogan for my first match."
Wight moved to WWE (then WWF) in 1999, being named the WWF Champion the same year, with 2019 marking his 20th anniversary in the pro wrestling business.
"I think my secret's always been adaptability. Even though I've been the same character for 20-plus years, my attitude in the business has always evolved to the needs of whatever I needed to do for the show," Wight previously told Fox News. "I think a lot of people give me grief for having a lot of turns, [having] more heel turns than NASCAR. No, that just means that the company has faith in me to get the job done at the time that's what they need to do and I'm able to execute it."
"I never forgot how much fun I have in the business," Wight, who dropped nearly 75 pounds last year, added. "A wise man once told me that when you're in a competitive business like this, treat every day like the first day on the job and you'll always be successful because the first job your mind's always open and it's not closed. And I've always kept my mind open to evolve in this business."