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The Vox Box

Sat., Nov. 10, 2007, 10:36 p.m.

Tallest US man is 7-foot-8 Virginia deputy

George Bell, a 7' 8" sheriff's deputy in the City of Norfolk, Va, works on his day off providing security at a park. The 50-year-old was recognized Thursday, Nov. 7 by the Guinness World Records as the Tallest Man in the United States.(AP Photo/Gary C. Knapp)

"Wow. You're tall."

George Bell, recognized by Guinness World Records as the Tallest Man in the United States, knows it and hears it a lot.

The lanky, 7-foot-8 Norfolk sheriff's deputy wears "size-19 shoes, pants with a 43-inch inseam and shirts with 45-inch sleeves."

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Bell hit 5-foot-4 at age 9. In middle school, he topped 6 feet. By the end of high school, he was 7-foot-6. He played basketball until, at 30, he lost interest in the sport and switched to law enforcement.

His height doesn't intimidate jail inmates — it helps him develop a rapport.

"They've never seen anyone this tall before, so they're amazed," Bell said. "They want to talk."

Bell focuses on the perks of being tall. For example, he usually gets free upgrades to first class on flights when the ticket-counter attendants realize he's going to need a lot of leg room.

He credits his late great-aunt, Etonia Johnson, with his positive attitude: "She always told me, 'Don't feel ashamed of yourself. Stand tall. God made you. Be happy and show your pride.' "

QUESTION: Who is the tallest person you know?

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