They mocked Dmitry at school... instead of lashing out, he stopped joining in
Published 10/10/2015 | 02:30
From an early age, Dmitry Hrynkevich found himself on the fringes of society.
A genetic condition saw him shoot up to 7'6" in his teenage years.
I shared a school with Dmitry 11 years ago, and it was clear from the moment he set foot in the school yard that his height would close more doors than it would open.
Last week, Ireland's third-tallest man was found lying on the front lawn of a property in Tralee with serious head injuries and was taken to Kerry General Hospital. He was 24 years of age.
He was placed on a life- support machine, but never regained consciousness.
Gardai believe his height was a motive for the attack in which he suffered catastrophic injuries.
On his first day in secondary school, people clambered at windows to see him walk to class.
Up until that point, the young Russian was a bit of an urban myth. We had all heard of this local friendly giant but never encountered him.
We were fascinated by him; when he stood for group prayer during assembly, his head and shoulders cleared window frames, obscuring his face from students peering through the glass outside.
He was almost three feet taller than some of his classmates.
Some did not know how to respond and many took to mocking him.
In a community where football was king, it would be easy to think that his height would work to his advantage but instead it became a feature that distanced him from his peers.
Always sociable and polite, Dmitry did his best to mix with other kids. He would try to play football at lunchtime but many would laugh and jeer as he played.
Dmitry would become visibly frustrated but never lashed out or used his imposing figure in an aggressive way.
Instead, he simply stopped joining in.
He took up smoking at a very early age, saying he hoped it would stunt his growth.
Initially, he was able to use his height to look older and acquire cigarettes, which allowed him to mix with other young smokers.
However, the social smoking landed him in trouble. His height made him easily identifiable, which resulted in him being caught smoking under the age of 18 on several occasions.
Rumours went around locally about how his gigantism was supposedly a life-threatening illness.
It was wrongly believed by many that he had a low life expectancy and people speculated that he wasn't expected to live long enough to complete his Leaving Certificate.
These stories would always filter back, often associated with words like "disease" and "Chernobyl" - mocking his Eastern European background - in an attempt provoke a reaction.
Dmitry only ever responded by distancing himself from those involved.
His gigantism was caused by over-productive growth hormones, something that many locals who knew him only discovered last week after he was savagely attacked in Tralee.
He was abandoned outside a house and later died in hospital surrounded by his family.
This week, Killarney was filled with sorrow for the young man's loss.
All the shared stories about Dmitry involved incidents where he was commended for tolerating the ignorance that was directed towards him for something he could do nothing about.
To avoid being the centre of attention, Dmitry ended up on the fringes of society but ended up an abandoned, unconscious and helpless victim, left to die alone.