DETROIT – The tallest man in the world stood at a staggering 8 feet 11 inches. His life-sized statue can be seen at Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills. But another man in our area is setting records for his height, and he's not the only one.
He wears a size 17 shoe and weighs 360 pounds, but those numbers are not what landed Mike Lanier in the Guinness Book of World Records. Standing at a 7 feet 7 inches when barefoot, he's likely the tallest man you've ever seen in Metro Detroit.
"I'm the tallest man in Michigan," Lanier said.
As Lanier, a legally defined giant, walked with me through the Local 4 studios, he was careful to avoid low-hanging exit signs and lights. The 45-year-old explained what life is like standing so tall. It's not as easy as you might think, if easy at all.
"As soon as new people see me it's just always a circus," Lanier said. "Flying is very expensive. I can only fit in the first class. Dating is very frustrating because I have so many people coming up to me I have no idea if the girl is interested in me or if she's just curious about my height."
Simple things like shopping are challenging. Lanier's winter coat, among other clothes, have to be custom made.
"When I had my coat made, I saved all the money I made, not just a couple dollars here and there, all the money I made for over two months," he said.
When I tried it on, it hung more like a robe on me.
Even Lanier's bike had to be custom made. And, like his coat, it didn't come cheap.
"I had only budgeted for $3,000," Lanier said.
You're probably wondering, does he play basketball? Well, he did in college, but believe it or not, even at his height, he never made it to the NBA.
"I sat the bench," said Lanier. "No one's going to pick a guy who sat the bench because they don't know if you can play."
But the story doesn't end there. There's one person who knows exactly what Lanier is going through: His twin brother James. Together they hold the Guinness Book of World Records for the "World's Tallest Twins."
"I'll never stop growing," said Lanier.
He has what's called acromegaly. It's a condition where his body produces too much growth hormone. While he might not get much taller than 7 feet 7 inches, his body will still continue to grow in size.
"In general, I'm a shy person and I've really had to work on that," Lanier said.
Though he understands his height does attract attention Mike hope people see what it's like to walk in his shoes.
"People think it's alright to just come up and ask me how tall I am, to pull my arm, to interrupt my conversations. It's quite frustrating cause I'm a person," he said.
But there is at least one perk to being so tall. Lanier has had some small parts in a few movies when he was living in California. He also has an independent film in the works now.