Turpin a "gentle giant"

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

Sadly, one of UK's greatest offensive players took his own life on Thursday, when the Fayette Co. coroner ruled Melvin Turpin committed suicide.

Sadly, one of UK's greatest offensive players took his own life on Thursday, when the Fayette Co. coroner ruled Melvin Turpin committed suicide. 

A 59.1 percent shooter for his career, the Big Dipper is the 15th all-time leading scorer at Kentucky, with 1,509 points.  Turpin averaged 12.3 ppg during his time wearing the blue, while sharing the spotlight with another All-American, Sam Bowie, during the 1980-81 and 83-84 seasons.

Turpin was an outstanding low post player, blessed with a variety of moves and a soft touch from 15 feet and in.

"He was the best outside shooting big man I've ever been around," Joe B. Hall said, Turpin's former coach.

Unfortunately, Turpin may be better remembered for his battle with weight issues, which Hall says, cut short his pro career and cost him millions in earnings.

"What a great kid.  He just didn't  take it seriously about his weight," Hall remembered.

There have been plenty of jokes made about Turpin.  His battle with the bulge resulted in a number of nicknames.

But family, friends and neighbors remember a man who was jovial, yet gentle.

Dean Davidson, who knew Turpin, sent in this email:


Who was Melvin Turpin

It is certain that Melvin will be remembered as a great basketball player, however, my family and I will always remember him as our mother's "Gentle Giant." 5 years ago our mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Melvin Turpin was our neighbor. He came often to the house to visit with her, bringing along with him a small dog. He would sit by her and chat with her, allowing her to hold his dog. It made her so happy. When she got to the point she could no longer walk from room to room, he would carry her like a baby from her bed to a chair so that she didn't have to stay in bed. When she was tired he would carry her back to bed. One morning, as it was pouring down rain, we had to have an ambulance come to take her to Hospice. As soon as Mel saw the ambulance in the driveway, he came running through the rain to see what was wrong. The ambulance drivers were having difficulty maneuvering the stretcher through the house, but Melvin stopped them. He went straight to her, picked her up his last time and carried her to the stretcher. Melvin Turpin was more than a basketball player. For us he was and will always be our mom's "Gentle Giant." whose heart was bigger than he was. We will forever love and miss him.  

The Davidson Family.

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