By FIONA ROBERTS
Half the size: Alex Respess reveals his astonishing weight loss next to a cardboard cut-out showing him at his heaviest, when he weighed 459lbs
When Alex Respess's mother died after a battle with cancer, she made one last request - for her son to be happy and healthy.
And now, four years later, the 23-year-old can proudly say he fulfilled his mother's dying wish after he lost almost half his body weight in just 12 months.
He showed off his astonishing transformation on ABC's Good Morning America today, where he revealed his new 243lbs figure next to a cardboard cut-out showing him at his heaviest, 459lbs.
Before and after: Alex Respess, left, at his first weigh-in a year ago, and right, today on Good Morning America after he lost an astonishing 216lbs
The audience gasped as he held up one of his old shirts, and showed how he could now fit his whole body into one leg of a pair of shorts he wore before he shed the pounds.
Mr Respess, of Duluth, Georgia, said: 'The one thing I think [my mom] would say is she's proud of the man I've become.
'Because I'm not that kid that was overweight that she remembers - now I'm grown up.'
He added: 'Now in her memory I am happy and healthy and helping my brothers get that way too.'
Inspiration: Alex Respess pictured with his mother, Kim, who died four years ago. She told him she wanted him to be happy and healthy
Last year he was literally double the size. After a lifetime of unhealthy eating, Mr Respess, an ardent baseball fan, was too big to play, and was too mortified to go out to eat after once breaking a chair at a restaurant.
He said:' I was very introverted, I just didn't get out there, now I have the confidence to talk to anyone, to do anything.'
So, in desperation, Mr Respess wrote to personal trainer Chris Powell, who agreed to help him on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
At the beginning Mr Respess was so big he had to be weighed on a freight-scale, and could only enter his bathroom door sideways.
Morbidly obese: At the beginning of the programme, Alex Respess was 459lbs, and had to be weighed using a pair of freight scales
First he travelled to Los Angeles, where he began his training - and learned how to make a healthier turkey version of his favourite bacon cheeseburger.
For the next 90 days Mr Powell lived with Mr Respess at his Duluth home, staying with him for 24 hours a day to help him meet his initial target, of losing 100lbs in just three months.
At his first weigh-in, he missed his goal - and the prize of a season ticket to his favourite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves - by just three pounds.
Astonishing transformation: Alex Respess demonstrates how he can fit inside one leg of his old shorts, left, and disappears behind an old shirt, right
Strict regime: Alex Respess meets Chris Powell, who spent the last year training him. Mr Powell even moved into his Georgia house for three months
But after Mr Powell moved out Mr Respess began to struggle, and worked out less and less. He said it gave him too much time to think about his mother's death, and he was angry about his father's impending marriage to his new fiancée.
The turning point came three days after the wedding, when Mr Powell took Mr Respess to an Army base in Georgia for a 24-hour boot camp.
He said the encouragement from the other soldiers as he trained alongside them spurred him on, and he went away with a coin to symbolise his goal: 'Get to it and fulfill your mission!'
Desperate measures: Alex Respess even let the Army shave his hair off so he could attend a 24-hour boot camp. He described it as a turning point
By January, he had lost a whopping 195lbs, and was able to undergo skin removal surgery to complete the transformation.
The end of the programme shows Mr Respess attending a ceremony with all his family and friends at a baseball field where he used to play little league - the last time he thought he made his mother proud.
He officially renamed a corner of the field Kim's Corner in her honour, and as he celebrated his 216lbs weight loss said: 'That number means a new life.'