Kevin Robert Clark weighed 16-pounds and 6-ounces when he was born on April 8, 1983, in Toms River, New Jersey. At the time, he was believed to be the biggest newborn ever delivered in the state at the time and the country became enamored with him.
Kevin is now 35 years old, weighing in at 300 pounds, and stands 6 feet, 9 inches tall. And as he knows a thing or two about being the tallest one in the room, he has some advice for the latest big baby, Harper Buckley, who was born last week in Elmira, New York, weighing in at 15 pounds, 5 ounces.
“Be prepared because at social gatherings, and at almost every family reunion, people are going to want to talk about it,” said Clark, who now lives near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and works in biomedical engineering. “Nobody is going to believe that it’s true— that your mom could [survive] that.”
When Harper was born last week, it took three doctors, a medical “vacuum,” and a C-section to deliver her upstate, according to her mother, Joy Buckley. “She’s probably going to be embarrassed at some point. It’s part of the territory,” he said of baby Buckley. “I’d tell her: Just be yourself and have a sense of humor.”
Right after Clark was born, “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at his weight in its Weekend Update segment with a joke about Jimmy Hoffa, a union leader who had vanished several years before. “Their headline was, ‘We found where Jimmy Hoffa has been hiding!’ They were saying it was me — and I’d been hiding inside my mom,” Clark said.
In fact, the entire country had eyes on Clark. On April 13, 1983, the New York Times ran an article saying the enormous infant couldn’t “fit in a bassinet or his baby clothes.” It quoted his mom, Patricia Clark, who called her new son “a real bruiser.”
“Everyone talked about it,” Clark said. “It was covered by ‘Good Morning America.’ One of my favorites was when the National Enquirer did a story on it.”
The tabloid had read, “I couldn’t even lift my big beauty — but I love all 16 1/3 pounds.” The paper paid his parents about $2,500 to run the story, which quoted Patricia saying, “Before I nursed him the first time, the doctor asked if he wouldn’t rather have meat and potatoes!”
“It was very much a big deal for my parents,” Clark said. “The money allowed us to fly to California to see my grandparents and be there for their retirement.” Clark’s family was soon overwhelmed with letters from very important people all over the globe.
“I got a letter from an NFL director saying, ‘Hey, we’re gonna offer you a job when you’re grown up because you’re so big. You can work for the Giants.’ I still have a teddy bear from the Giants,” Clark said. “I got a letter from the US Coast Guard offering me a paid visit to their college university [when I’m old enough.]”
By age 12, Clark was already a whopping 5 foot, 7 inches tall. And by his junior year of high school, he stood tall at 6-foot-5. However, being so tall at such a young age came with its own challenges.
“A challenge in high school and adult life was finding clothes and shoes that fit — I could never shop off the rack” said Clark, whose dad is 6-foot-7 and whose mom is slightly taller than average. “As a teenager, I grew so quickly I always needed new clothes.” Many would assume he was athletically inclined, and his coaches, in particular, would push him to play basketball.
“There was always an expectation that I would play basketball because I was so tall. I had a conversation with my high school health teacher, who was also a coach, and he said, ‘If you want to pass health class, you’re gonna play basketball.’”
Clark added, “He said it in jest, but there was truth to it. It was a small school, and they needed me to play. But it was never my passion, and I wasn’t actually good at it.”
In fact, he was much more interested in hunting and fishing. “My parents were always really supportive and let me be who I am with no expectations. But baby Harper should have a heads up about some of these size-related stereotypes,” he said.
“As [a] girl, there might be different challenges for her — going to a school dance and being taller than the guy she’s with. Not being able to wear heels,” he said. However, Clark didn’t follow a sports path but instead joined the Air Force and later became a military cop in Texas.
“There’s a natural tendency for people to think that because you’re tall, you’re in charge. I always say, ‘Everyone looks up to me,’” he said.
“I was a police officer for a while and everyone instantly would ask me questions, like I was in charge. I’d be in the same uniform as them, sometimes with less stripes,” he added. “Conversely, though, I was never able to hide in a crowd.”
Once Clark got out of the military, he got his MBA and married his wife, Jenna, who is 6 feet tall. And through it all, Clark says he uses humor to cope with his unique size. “There isn’t a day that goes by when someone doesn’t ask me how tall I am. I like to joke that I’m 5-foot-21. When people ask if I play basketball, I ask them if they play miniature golf,” he said.
His final word of advice to Harper? Just be yourself. “There will probably be times when you don’t blend in,” he said. “Just go with it.”