Mel Turpin, 80's Basketball Star, Commits Suicide

Marc Roseblade@myscottishfitbaContributor IIIJuly 9, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - 1988:  Mel Turpin #54 of the Utah Jazz shoots a hook shot during an NBA game at The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1988. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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.

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

A dominant center in college, Turpin scored 42 points against Tennessee as a junior, 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.  After five seasons with the Cavaliers, Jazz, and Bullets, he retired.

As evidenced in post-retirement interviews, 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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