Former Kentucky center Melvin Turpin, aged 49, has died by his own hand at his home in Lexington earlier today.
Known popularly as “Dinner Bell Mel” because of his size, and “The Dipper” because of his mass and his combination of strength and finesse around the basket, Turpin played four seasons at Kentucky from 1980-84 and comprised half of the famed Twin Towers duo, along with Sam Bowie. His play during his senior year earned him first-team all-SEC honors and spots on many 2nd- and 3rd-team all-America lists. He was drafted sixth overall by the Washington Bullets in the 1984 NBA draft and was traded almost immediately to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Due to his weight struggles, Turpin only played five seasons in the NBA, his best season coming in his second year, averaging 13.7 PPG and 7.0 RPG for the Cavs in 1985-86.
Lexington police responded to a “personal injury call” at Turpin’s home late on Thursday afternoon, and local news outlets began reporting and tweeting more grave concerns as the coroner arrived on the scene. The suicide was unfortunately confirmed soon after.
Turpin was a visible figure around Lexington and occupied a special place in the hearts of Kentucky faithful because of his often self-deprecating sense of humor and his friendliness toward his fans. Our prayers go out to Mr. Turpin’s family and friends at this confusing and awful time.