Roy James Tarpley (November 28, 1964 – January 9, 2015) was an American professional basketball player. He played the power forward and center positions, earning an NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1988.
Despite his talent, Tarpley became notable during his career for being banned from the NBA because of his drug and alcohol abuse. He had great success playing in Europe, most notably for Olympiacos and Aris.
Tarpley starred at the University of Michigan, and was named a 3rd-Team All-American by the AP in 1985 and 1986.
In the 1984–85 season Tarpley led the Wolverines to the Big Ten championship, averaging 19.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game throughout the season, himself earning the Big Ten Player of the Year award.
On February 7, 1985 he posted a career-high in scoring against Purdue with 31 points.
In his senior season Tarpley set the school record for most blocked shots in a game against Florida Southern.
He led his school in blocked shots in each of his college years, and he also led the school in scoring and rebounding in all but his freshman season.
As of March 2014, he was the Wolverine’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 251.
Tarpley finished his college career posting averages of 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
In 1986 he was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, with the seventh pick of the NBA Draft. Tarpley made the NBA All-Rookie Team in his first season, and won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award the following year, when he averaged 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
However, six games into the 1989–90 season, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, and suspended by the NBA.
In March 1991, he drew another suspension after being arrested for DWI again. A few months later, he notched a third violation and was banned from the league for violating the NBA’s drug-use policies.
He returned to the Mavericks briefly in 1994, but was then permanently banned from the NBA in December 1995 for using alcohol and violating the terms of a court-imposed personal aftercare program.
He finished with NBA career averages of 12.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Tarpley also played for Aris, Olympiacos, Esperos Kallitheas, and Iraklis in Greece’s top professional basketball league, the Greek Basket League.
In the 1992–93 FIBA European Cup season, he won the Saporta Cup with Aris, and reached the Euroleague’s Final the following year, by playing in the 1994 FIBA European League Final Four, while playing with Olympiacos against Joventut Badalona in Tel Aviv.
That same year, he led the Euroleague competition in rebounds, with an average of 12.8 per game.
With Olympiacos, Tarpley also won the Greek League and the Greek Cup.
In 2006, he played with the Michigan Mayhem of the Continental Basketball Association.
He sued the Mavericks and the NBA, claiming that their refusal to reinstate him violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because his addiction was a disability. The suit was settled out of court in March 2009.
On January 9, 2015, Tarpley died at the age of 50. No cause of death was given.
His daughter Harmoni Elise Tarpley is a 2015 graduate of Texas Christian University with a major in Elementary Education.