Jul 9, 2010 5:07 AM
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.