Sports - Kentucky

Jul 9, 2010 5:07 AM

Former Cat Melvin Turpin Commits Suicide At Age 49

Former UK basketball star Melvin Turpin committed suicide Thursday at his home in north Lexington. He was 49.

The incident was reported at about 4:40 p.m. at Turpin's home on Princess Arch Way in the Masterson Station subdivision. Family says Turpin's wife was at the hospital with heart problems. When a close family friend came to check on the former Wildcat, she found him dead.

The coroner said Turpin died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

A 6'11" center, Turpin attended the University of Kentucky for four seasons from 1981-84 before being drafted as the sixth overall pick in the first round by the Washington Bullets in the 1984 NBA Draft, and immediately traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He was a dominant center in college, scoring 42 points against Tennessee as a junior by making 18 of 22 shots from the field. He similarly dominated LSU as a senior, shooting 15 of 17 from the floor and five of six from the foul line.

As a professional, however, Turpin struggled with his weight, and after five seasons with the Cavaliers, Utah Jazz and the Bullets, he retired.

As evidenced in post-retirement interviews, however, Turpin maintained a healthy sense of humor in regards to his disappointing career, telling Sports Illustrated: "In my day, they thought the big man was supposed to be thin. They didn't know too much. It was medieval."

Turpin was a Lexington native who attended Bryan Station High School.

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