55. Remembering Len Bias (1963-1986)

Posted: November 4, 2009 in African American, faith, parenting
Tags: , , , ,

Recently ESPN 30 for 30 aired a program entitled “Without Bias” that provided a detailed account of the events that led up to- and the aftermath of the University of Maryland basketball phenom Len Bias.  Leonard Kevin Bias (November 18, 1963 – June 19, 1986) was a first team All-American college basketball player who suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia that resulted from a cocaine overdose less than 48 hours after being selected second overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft.len-bias1

Although this occurred over 20 years ago I recall this tragedy as if it were yesterday.  I can’t recall of another time in the history of sports where a 2nd overall draft pick didn’t live to see the first day of training camp.

The Len Bias story is one that proved to all who hadn’t known it before, that cocaine is a potent drug and can be merciless even to first-time users.  The recent ESPN program opened an old wound for me as I contemplate the many black men who have succumb to the pressure of selling and using illegal substances.

Within five years of his passing, Len’s younger brother, Jay Bias, became a victim to gun violence.

A Detroit native, I spent my high school years in a community where the Young Boyz Incorporated ruled the streets of Dexter, Linwood and Chicago Blvd.  Every day we witnessed the residual effect of the drug trade.  It was also during that time span that I lost a friend due to an accident with a handgun.  With all the pain and frustration that went along with the surroundings of such, I’m sure my frustration was no match for that of Lonise Bias, a mother who lost two sons with promise within 5 years of the other.

I’m not a mother, nor have I lost any children, but a deep pain is felt in the pit of my stomach when I try to fathom what Lonise has endured.  That pain is erased as I learn that after 23 years (Len has been dead as long as he has been alive) Lonise Bias continues to dedicate her life to helping youth avoid the pitfalls of drugs, crime and illicit behaviors.


Dr. Lonise Bias - mother of Len & Jay Bias

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 23 years since my high school graduation.  I never grew to become a basketball star as was once my dream, but I’m thankful for the life and family that God has given me.  More importantly, I thank Him for giving me another chance.

I conclude this piece with a scripture from Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Be blessed,

damon signature

Copyright © 2009

  1. Sabin says:

    That documentary opened those wounds of naive youth all over again. Bias was a super-hero, but we never would have suspected that he’d be memorialized this way ….

    I hope they do one on the racial undertones of John Thompson at Georgetown and/ or the Fab Five.

  2. Donna says:

    It’s been a longggg time,thanx 4 rememberin 1 of the greats 🙂

  3. ANONYMOUS says:

    Very sad story. But with every sad story comes a blessing for those who choose to abstain from similar trappings.

  4. Blackman says:

    This as a good site. Your blackness unmistakeabky shines through. -Blackman

  5. Derrick says:

    i remember the len bias trajedy like it was yesterday, too. i was in the 8th grade when he passed. to this day i have never tried drugs out of respect for len bias.


  6. Tracey Johnson says:

    A real tear-jerker. I was going to school at University of Maryland when that happened. It was one of the most horrible experiences that I can remember. I really appreciate the tribute. TJ

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