By John Balson @JJBalson
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Videographer / Director: Maria Andrade
Producer: John Balson, Chloe Browne, Nicole Froio
Editor: Sonia Estal
A GENTLE giant so embarrassed by his height he hid at home for 'half his life' has found love - with a woman THREE FEET smaller than him.
Joelison Fernandes da Silva, 28, developed gigantism as a child and rapidly grew to a massive 7ft 8in tall.
The shy Brazilian was forced to drop out of school due to bullying and refused to leave the family house for years.
But following successful surgery to remove a benign tumour on his pituitary gland, his condition is now under control.
And the real-life Goliath has cemented his happiness - by marrying 5ft Evem Medeiros, 21.
He said: "The first time I saw her it was love at first sight. I was charmed by her. I wanted to be with her all the time. It didn't matter about her size."
However, the former gold miner admits their huge height difference has left a few people bewildered - especially when it comes to the dynamics of their love-life.
"I get asked a lot about this and at first it annoyed me but nowadays it's normal and I am used to it. I take it in good humour.
"Some people like to talk about my shoe size and then imagine how big my member might be.
"I think the size of my feet is false advertising. Our love life is normal. We adapt. Lying down everyone is my size."
Joelison grew up in a small rural village in Paraiba, northern Brazil and was bullied from a young age due to his height.
He got in trouble for fighting his tormentors and later decided to quit school all together, much to the disappointment of his mother Ivanilde Fernandes da Silva, 45.
She said: "From a young age I knew there was something not quite right with Joelison. When he was a baby and only a few months old the baby shoes stopped fitting his feet properly and I'd always have to go and buy more and more.
"I thought 'there’s something wrong here' but the doctors said he was just a big baby and would stop growing eventually and so we waited for him to stop growing - but he still hasn’t stopped.
"When he got to eight years old I knew he was growing at an abnormal rate and by the time he was 14 he was already 6ft 4in.
"We lived in the rural zone and nobody knew him. For half of his life he has been hidden away. If anyone came to our house he was so shy he would hide so they wouldn’t see him.
"I was really worried."
Doctors later discovered he had a benign tumour on his pituitary gland that was causing his body to produce uncontrolled amounts of growth hormone.
Joelison initially refused to have it removed as he didn't want to spend three months in hospital recovering - even though he was warned it would eventually killed him.
But in 2007, after some convincing from his family, he agreed and had it removed using less invasive laser surgery performed through his nose.
The successful operation helped slow his growth but he still sprouted another four inches to his current height of 7ft 8in.
With the gigantism under control, his confidence grew.
The computer games fan finally took a step into the public conscience and was eventually crowned Brazil's tallest man.
One show took such pity on his plight they made him seven pairs of shoes to fit his enormous size 23 shoe size and custom shirts and shorts to fit his bulky frame.
Joelison, who bizarrely used to work in a gold mine as well as a plantation before leaving due to his health, now makes a living appearing in commercials for different types of frozen ready meals.
As a celebrity in his homeland he began to attract admirers, including new wife Evem Medeiros.
She contacted him on Facebook to wish him happy birthday and they swapped numbers before starting a committed relationship two months later.
"She was basically my first woman. The first woman of my life. I was 28," said Joelison.
"I thought everything about her was beautiful - but especially her eyes.
"She is very caring. She doesn't show it when the cameras are here but she is caring and truthful. She has never lied to me."
Just a year later they were married and it didn't take them long to start trying for a family.
But Evem, who hopes to find work as a hair stylist, was wary of getting intimate.
She said: "I had a certain amount of fear. I was afraid it wouldn't work out. But it was fine - we have a normal love life."
"We want to have a family so I track my dates, times, temperature, everything. All I have to do is call him and he understands what is going on."
"I have polycystic ovaries and so there are months that I don't ovulate. I've done my exams and already know that my condition makes it more difficult to get pregnant. But he hasn't done his tests so we need him to go and do it so we can see if the problem really is just me."
Aside from family planning they also struggle to work together on basic chores like cooking, cleaning and shopping as Joelison's height makes it tough for him to stand up for long periods of time.
But his height and celebrity often means he is allowed to skip to the front of queues when out.
His new relationship has also caused friction with his mother, who is finding it hard to let him stand on his own two feet after 28 years.
She said: "I got really jealous when he got married because I dedicated my life to him and when I had to share him with someone else it really wasn’t easy - but as a mother I want him to be happy.
"With his treatment, I’m still the one who takes care of that, I haven’t delegated it to that girl yet. But I will once she gets used to things."
Joelison still has monthly injections and four-types of daily medication to control his condition and is likely to need even more care as he gets older.
However, he has still plans to fulfil many of his dreams, including having a family and travelling abroad. He also finally finished his high-school education last year after studying at home.
On top of this, he is soon due to fly to Paris, France, from a convention where he will meet others with gigantism, including the tallest man in the world Sultan Kösen from Turkey.
And Joelison, who is thought to be the third tallest man in the world, says he is looking forward to the novelty of being smaller than someone for once.
"The most interesting thing is going to be standing face to face with someone," he said. "The last time i did that I was a child."