Khagendra Thapa Magar reigned as the world's shortest man who could walk, according to Guinness World Records, but he never thought of himself as small. "I'm a big man," he said after a 2010 ceremony recognizing his diminutive stature. Which is why the Nepal man's death this week is earning big headlines around the world, not only for the record on his size (he stood at 2 feet, 2.41 inches), but for the zest he had for life. Via the BBC, Magar's brother told AFP that he died Friday of pneumonia at the age of 27. Magar was born in Nepal's Baglung district and "was so tiny when he was born that he could fit in the palm of your hand," his father says, per Guinness. "It was very hard to bathe him because he was so small." Magar was discovered when he was a young teen by a traveling salesman, and he soon started making appearances at local fairs, where he'd take photos with attendees.
He became famous internationally after Guinness honored him with his title in 2010. Guinness recently spent some time with him to document what goes on in his daily life, going shopping with him, watching him play guitar, and visiting his home. Guinness responded to Magar's death with an Instagram post. "We're terribly sad to hear the news," GWR Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday notes. "His bright smile was so infectious that he melted the hearts of anyone who met him. ... Khagendra certainly didn't let his small size stop him from getting the most out of life." The world's shortest man who can't walk is 26-year-old Junrey Balawing of the Philippines, who measures 23.5 inches. (Read more obituary stories.)