By Tom Midlane @goldenlatrine

TOWERING over his teammates at 7ft 1in tall, 17-year-old Brave Williams is hoping his height can help propel him to sporting stardom

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Videographer / director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Tom Midlane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Ian Phillips, Joshua Douglas

Brave Hunter Williams is dreaming of making it big as a basketball or American football star

The 400lb man mountain, a senior at Lake Shore High School in Angola, New York, is already a highly-regarded member of his high school basketball and American football teams.

And the colossal youngster is now setting his sights on winning a much-coveted athletic scholarship to a US college.

Brave’s growth spurt started early - at three months old he was already the size of a one-year-old.

By the time he was in kindergarten he was being mistaken for children nearly twice his age.
He said: "When I was five years old, I was like 5ft 3in.

"The teachers thought I was actually a second grader, so they put me in the wrong class for about an hour before they realised their mistake.

"I had to tell them that I was just starting school.

"By the time I was ten, I was hitting 6ft 6in, 6ft 5in, and then the growth started to slow down a little bit.”

The 7ft 1in 17-year-old towers over the rest of his family

However, Brave very nearly didn’t make it to even his first birthday - he had to be delivered via caesarian because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.

"The doctors tried to pull me out three times before they were going to take more drastic measures. But as soon as my dad touched my mom's forehead, I let go, and the doctors got me out,” Brave told high school sports site MaxPreps.

"My dad instantly named me Brave because I needed a strong name."

Specialists were concerned that he might be suffering from a form of gigantism known as Sotos syndrome, but tests done at three months and again at three years came back clear - much to the relief of his mother Angela.

She said: "Everyday he grew more and more, so that was when I got worried.

“To finally get the word that you have just got a tall kid was really relieving to say the least."

But although it is no longer a cause for concern among his doctors, Brave’s height now strikes fear into his opponents on both the American football field and the basketball court.

Brave's height gives him a unique advantage on the basketball court

Brave said: “My height affects my sports play - in football it’s easier to swat down passes on the line and I just 'swim move' [a technique used to avoid being blocked] over everybody.

“Also in basketball, it’s easier to get rebounds.”

Brave’s cousin Shawn John added: “He is a big boy. All he has got to do is turn around and look at the basket. He basically could almost dunk it by just putting into the basket.

"You don’t play against seven footers too often, unless you are in the NBA. He’s one in a million."

Brave is now 7ft 1in tall - the same as Basketball Hall of Fame legend Shaquille O’Neal - but experts predict will be 7ft 5in by the time he stops growing, the same size as his great-great uncle.

Brave said: “He made a pine tree look like a sapling. So, I think that’s where I got most of my height from."

Born of African-American and Native American heritage, Brave lives on the Cattaraugus Reservation in the Seneca Nation of Indians.

Brave's mum Angela says her son has to deal with stares and rude comments because of his size

The tall teen sleeps in a custom-made bed, although his feet still dangle off the end, and wears size 21 shoes.

While Brave’s size makes him killer on the court, it does also attract unwelcome attention in the form of stares and comments.

Mum Angela said: "It was tough for me when my son turned five because then he had to go to school and I had to share him with the world.

“It was hard because he is sensitive and people stare, they look, they point.

“Now he’ll take the time to talk to everybody, people ask him the same questions over and over again - ‘How tall are you? Are you a wrestler? Are you this? Are you that?’ And he just takes the time to respond, that’s his special gift."

Brave dwarves his young nephew while playing American football in his back yard

Brave added: “People’s first reaction is a little shocked that they are seeing somebody this big and then they are kind of awestruck.

“Then they get to start asking questions - though sometimes they don’t even ask me, they ask my mom. They are like, ‘Oh, how tall is he?' I am like 'I am right here, I can still talk!’"

Growing up abnormally tall also presented challenges for Brave, with pantry doors and chairs falling prey to his clumsy teenage frame.

He said: “I tried to hang out with my friends and they have a swing set or something and I would be the size of a teenager trying to ride a five-year-old ride.

Brave was 5ft 3in by the time he entered kindergarten

"I didn’t know my strength back then either. My mom would always tell me to calm down and just watch, or say ‘Don’t hit him too hard, watch your strength.’"

But despite his colossal build, and the stares he attracts, friends and family describe him as a gentle giant.

Angela said: "He is honest and constant and dependable. And ever since he was little, he and I would go to the restaurant to meet his father and they’d say, ‘Wow, you son is Brave? He is such a nice boy.’

Specialists were initially worried that he might be suffering from a form of gigantism known as Sotos syndrome

"And yeah he is big, he is tall but he is also very intelligent."

Brave is now determined to go on and become a pro athlete, but says he wants to go to college and complete his studies first - and would like to major in engineering.

And for 5ft 9in Angela, Brave’s stature is more than just an accident of genetics.

Experts believe Brave could be 7ft 5in by the time he finishes growing
Incredibly, he is already taller than anyone in the NFL

"I thought about my son being tall for a long time, and I think there is a reason why he’s so tall - because it gets him noticed and makes people listen to him,” she added.

“But the rest is what matters, what really makes him special. I know he’s going to do big things."