Courts & Crime

Coroner: Ex-basketball star died of self-inflicted gunshot wound

As Melvin Turpin's family was trying to pull together Friday to complete funeral arrangements, some were still wondering how such a tragedy could have happened.

Turpin, 49, was found dead about 4:30 p.m. Thursday at his home in the Masterson Station subdivision. The former University of Kentucky basketball star was discovered by a family friend who regularly checked on Turpin and his wife, Kerry, who was away for medical treatment.

The Fayette County coroner's office announced Friday that Turpin died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Coroner Gary Ginn said he did not plan on releasing any other details surrounding Turpin's death.

On Friday, Turpin's niece, Rosalind Turpin, questioned whether the coroner's report was correct. She said investigators told her that Turpin shot himself in the chest.

"I just don't believe that at all," Rosalind Turpin said. "I think there's more to it."

Rosalind Turpin said she was not aware of him having any financial problems. She thinks her uncle had recently given a donation to University of Kentucky and he had purchased a new car. According to local and federal court records, Melvin Turpin did not have any documented legal or financial problems.

Relatives said Turpin had been coping with his wife's being ill. They also said that Turpin was diabetic, but no one knew if either of those situations contributed to his death.

Turpin was a center for UK in the 1980s then was drafted sixth in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets. He was immediately traded to Cleveland. Turpin also did a stint in Utah, which traded him to a Spanish team for Jose Ortiz. His career then faded.

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