Who remembers Len Bias?

As a Terps fan and with Maryland winning the national title in NCAA basketball I’m wondering if anybody remembers this cautionary tale from the '80’s.

If you don’t know who Bias was: he was an all-american forward at the University of Maryland in the mid '80’s who was the #2 pick in the NBA draft by the defending champs–the Boston Celtics.

This was a guy 2 years behind Michael Jordan in the ACC and who people like Coach K called the best player in college basketball.

What happened to Bias? Why is he not a Michael?

He celebrated his pick in the draft with cocaine and died.

DEAD at 22 years old with $millions at his fingertips.

I’m not sure what I’m asking, but did his death do some good?

Does anybody think that the altheltic superstars think twice knowing that shit like coke can kill them?

I don’t want to preach, and my favorite memory of Bias is of him skying and dunking, but:

What have we, or superstars, learned?

Bias was an amazing athlete. I only have vague recollections of his playing at the time, but his dunks were always monstrous; better than Jordan was in college, for sure. But who knows if it would’ve translated to the pros in the same way MJ did.

One thing Bias’ passing did was shake up Univ of Maryland’s athletics, and the school as a whole. Lefty Driesell left, Gary Williams came in a couple years later. UMD began to put a strong emphasis on academics, received a designation as the state’s “flagship” institution, and is now one of the country’s better state schools (getting accepted is infinitely more difficult now than it was 15 years ago).

So I don’t know about what athletes have learned, but my alma mater sure used it as a kick in the ass to re-invent itself as a university.

~peepthis, Class of '00

I’m of U of MD, College Park grad myself. When I was a RS manager in 1985-85 near Arlington VA, one of my part timers was a friend of Len Bias (how close I’m not really sure I think it was more a “hanger on” type relationship) . He was a very tall, goofy white kid who was not very bright but had a sort of innate sweetness that carried him along.

He was very upset by his death for reasons along the line of “what a waste” and “my friend is gone forever” and was so upset he couldn’t come to work for several days. He said he had tried to warn Bias about overdoing it on drug use when they were hanging out but Bias would tell him “I’m a horse” and proceed to do more lines.

I was sorry for his family but I never could muster much sympathy for Bias himself. Forrest Gump aside nature is not normally kind in the long run to willfully stupid people who do lots of drugs.

See Still haunted by Len Bias

My dad graduated from Maryland in 1974, and eleven years later his dorm room was where Len Bias died.

I’ve always found that rather spooky.

Sorry never heard of the person. Probably becuase I live in the United Kingdom. Just thought I would tell you anyway…


He was the #1 reason I didn’t experiment with hard drugs in college.

In fact, I was just talking about him the other day with a co-worker when we were relating our drug use in our checkered pasts.

I was at another ACC school when that happened, and it shook me up. I watched him play, and it was truly a sight I will always remember. He was the type of player you watched when he DIDN’T have the ball to see him set up a play. A stellar athlete, from what I know a very nice man, and a tragic loss. One of my first thoughts was that God was a Lakers fan, because the Celtics would have been amazing with him. I remember where I was when I heard the news.

As for impact, I am sure it had a great one among athletes at the time, and since the great ones who may have been influenced in turn influence the younger crowd, I hope that the impact remains even if the incident fades.

Oh man. One of the worst days of my life. I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I was born and raised in suburban Maryland. In those days, you identified with either Maryland or Georgetown. I was a Maryland fan, and Len Bias was an idol of mine. Not for any real good reason, just one of those childhood things were you choose someone and root for them.

I still have the Sports Illustrated with him on the cover after he died.

I don’t remember all the details, but his younger brother was a decent basketball player too, and died under lousy circumstances. He was the victim of a drive-by shooting if my memory serves.

Just like Cranky, he was the reason I never used hard drugs in college. In fact, I remember several fellow students used that as their prime reason.

Glad to hear his death had some positive effects, such as people deciding not to use hard drugs. If you are an adult, you can make your own choices, but…

It is said that the star that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast. I’m hard pressed to find a better example of that in sports than Bias. Granted that it was his own conduct that did him in-- and maybe that’s the lesson.

Astro-that’s a good article, I’d seen it before. Hugh–I remember that Sports Illustrated–IIRC, 'Death of a Dream" was the title.

The highlight they still show on the ACC TV network is of Bias draining a jumper and then stealing the inbounds pass and dunking it behind his head to seal North Carolina’s first loss in the “Dean Dome”. Bitter Tar Heels were like “Maryland didn’t beat us, Lenny Bias did.”

It boggles my mind to think about Bias. You’re the most dynamic college basketball player in the country and are set for life after being drafted by the champs–But you’re dead two days later.

#1 reason for me too.

I do not use cocaine. Period.

Sometimes I’m asked why, and I always mention Len Bias.

Very personal.
I swore off coke use in 1981.
Was about to fall off the wagon.
Len Bias died.
Still off since 1981.

The year he died my room mate at school was a HUGE Celtics fan. I came home and found Rick bawling, cussing, throwing stuff, just freaked out. “What’s going on?” “Len Bias dies from a drug overdose.” “Get outta here! Auerbach must be shitting his pants.”

Very sad day all the way around.