Goodbye Mel Turpin

The visitation of Melvin Turpin a former University of Kentucky basketball star took place today at a Kerr Brothers a Lexington funeral home. Those that went expecting a long casket, a long line to view the body, and long former players got the unexpected.

The visitation of Melvin Turpin a former University of Kentucky basketball star took place today at a Kerr Brothers a Lexington funeral home. Those that went expecting a long casket, a long line to view the body, and long former players got the unexpected. Only one of those factors materialized because there was no casket and no long lines – only the long former players.

The Turpin family opted for cremation whereby the elimination of the oversized casket. The funeral director said the caskets they keep on hand will handle anybody up to 6-foot-6 in height and a seven-footer such as Turpin had to have a special ordered casket.

There will be a private ceremony with only family and close friends present. Depending on the extravagance of said ceremony, the reduction of expense could range from two thousand to ten thousand dollars the director said.

There was a steady stream of visitors during the early stages of the three-hour visitation period. Among those visiting was Sam Bowie, Dicky Beale, Derrick Hord, Leroy Byrd, Wayne Chapman, Kenny Walker, Alfred Rawls, Joe Hall, and Leonard Hamilton. Dicky Beale said – "I didn't believe it when I first heard the bad news. It actually took me about a day to absorb it and come to grips of the reality of such a thing."

Turpin was always such an ebullient personality and very comical. That's why those that knew him well had such a hard time fathoming what the coroner term a suicide.

Two children from his first wife were present at the funeral home. They were Kiel and Lisa Turpin. Kiel a seven-footer spent his last two years playing basketball at Lincoln College a junior college in Illinois. "I was shocked when I heard about it, " an estranged Kiel said, "and beyond that I don't know what to say. My whole motivation for playing basketball was for my dad to come and watch me play." Lisa, 6-foot-5.just completed high school and also plans to attend Lincoln College, but to play volleyball.

Kiel Turpin is considered a late bloomer just like his dad was and whether he will ever be as good as his dad remains to be seen. His granddad said he got such a late start as Bloomington Normal High School that he didn't play in high school. Young Turpin said the player he most respects is Kevin Durrant because he came into the league at 185-pounds and many thought he would fail. And every body is constantly telling him (Kiel) he needs to gain weight and he feels it is somewhat of a misnomer that you have to have bulk to play in the NBA.

Those that recently came in contact Melvin Turpin said that he remained the usual upbeat person everybody knew. Turpin was the same when he scaled over 400-pounds a few years ago. At that time, Joe Hall had several players rallied to gather on a statewide tour campaigning for Ben Chandler, now in the United State Senate. Hall said Turpin at that time had to be weighed on a feed scale where they sold animal feed. Turpin had since shedded over 100-pounds.


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