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Original Issue

Mel Turpin

His career was filled with monster dunks and supersized meals.
But Mel Turpin wants to talk about a gigantic crush. In 1997
Turpin ran into Kerry Soper, his health teacher when he was a
senior at Lexington (Ky.) High in the late '70s. "All those old
feelings came back," says Turpin, 43, a star 6'11" center at
Kentucky before a disappointing five-year career in the NBA. He
asked Soper, nine years his senior, to go out. A year later he
asked her to marry him.

Now a security guard at a Nissan dealership in Lexington, Turpin,
at 350 pounds (90 over his NBA weight), is happy to weigh in on
the league's current big men. "Oliver Miller, that's a big
dude," he says of Minnesota's 315-pound center. "In my day, they
thought the big man was supposed to be thin. They didn't know too
much. It was medieval."



COLOR PHOTO: GREG FOSTER TIGHT SECURITY The player known as Dinner Bell keeps alarms fromringing at a car dealership.