Neil Fingleton, “Game of Thrones” actor and one of the tallest people in the world at 7 feet 7 inches, died yesterday at the age of 36, reportedly of a heart attack. See Worcester Telegram story here. In 1999, I spent several weeks with Neil as he completed his senior season on Worcester’s Holy Name High School basketball team. I had heard about Neil and wanted to do a picture story/photo essay about him for the Boston Herald. I took my idea and petitioned his coach, Worcester sport’s legend J.P. Ricciardi, who later became a Major League Baseball executive. I met with Coach Ricciardi at a coffee shop in Worcester. He made it clear that he did not want Neil’s height to be exploited. I was given a thumbs up to meet Neil and to get his blessing on the project. He was all in. Neil was a bit shy at first, but we quickly took a liking to each other. The last time I spoke to him, he had called me at the Herald in 2007 or 2008 and alerted me to his new career in the entertainment business. He said he was traveling to Boston to promote a show he was in, and asked if I wanted to cover the event for the Herald. We never connected. Below are my photographs from my time with Neil. May he rest in peace.
Two years ago 18 year old Neil Fingleton traveled to Worcester,MA. from his home in Durham, England to learn a game he had never played. In several days he will have come full circle when he announces his decision to accept a full Basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina.
Running sprints in the hallways of Holy Name High in Worcester into the night…
Legendary Worcester area athlete and former Celt’s player Togo Palazzi works with Neil. Togo says about the “work in progress”, “it’s a labor of love” (working with Neil) .
“Doin’ Steps” is the term affectionately known for the exercise that was developed by school strength coach Tony Elia.
In his room which has a taste of home Union Jack flag on the wall, hours after deciding on a full scholarship to University of North Carolina, Neil receives congratulations from a friend.
Hours before choosing UNC over Wake Forest, Neil consults with Asst. Holy Name hoop coach Tom Clark (Left) and head coach J.P Ricciardi.
Long hours at the gym have paid off for Neil as he dunks during practice.
Going thru the workout developed by Holy Name strength coach Tony Elia, teammates of Neil’s come up short during a flexibility drill.
Neil Fingleton going thru the training paces with fellow teammate A.J. at Holy Name High in Worcester.
Neil relaxes with friends in the Holy Name Cafeteria hours before the first game of the season.
Before his 1st game of the Holy Name High School schedule, Neil gathers his thoughts alone in the locker room.
1st game of the year vs Worcester South.
Neil leaves school the day after making his choice to accept a full scholarship at University of North Carolina.
Tags: Basketball, Boston, Boston Herald, England, height, high school, Holy Name, hoops, Mark Garfinkel, Massachusetts, Nail Fingleton, tall, tallest, Worcester