Former NBA Player Mel 'The Big Dipper' Turpin Dead at 49

The All-American Kentucky center commits suicide.

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Mel "The Big Dipper" Turpin has passed away. He was 49. The coroner reports that Turpin committed suicide in his North Lexington, Ky., home. Turpin's sister Margaret Buruss tearfully told reporters that he had been struggling with diabetes, and his wife has a heart condition. His wife was not at home at the time of the suicide. The 6-foot-11 Turpin was an All-Southeastern Conference player for the Wildcats from 1980 to 1984. He led Kentucky to the SEC championship in 1984. He was the sixth player selected in the 1984 NBA draft that included Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, but never had the NBA success of those future stars. He played for the Washington Bullets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz.

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