I watched a documentary about Len Bias this afternoon. He was basketball player who played for the University of Maryland from 1982 to 1986. I am a UNC fan and have been my entire life so I remember watching Bias play against the Tar Heels and he usually went off on them. He played against Michael Jordan for a couple of years and I still remember watching the two of them and thinking that I was seeing two of the best basketball players to ever suit up. I still think that.
Bias was a First Team All-American and was the ACC Player of the Year in 1985 and 1985. I still remember his 35 points against UNC during his senior year. He was an incredible athlete and even though he didn’t play for my team, I really liked him. He always seemed to be a pretty humble guy and didn’t trash talk on the court or in the media. He might have played for a rival but there was respect for him. I just knew he would go on to be one of the best that the NBA ever saw.
He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA draft and I remember thinking that I was going to pull for them. That’s how much I liked Len Bias. I, along with countless other basketball fans, could not wait to see what he would do at the next level. Tragically, we never had the chance to find out. He died two days after signing with the Celtics. The cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia due to a cocaine overdose.
It sounds almost silly to say that drugs are bad but it’s the truth. In the documentary several of his former teammates and friends talked about how ignorant they all were back then. Cocaine was glamorized and it the assumption was that it was just a part of professional sports. They thought they were doing what all the big name guys did. Bias thought he was just doing what was expected of him and it cost him his life.
It’s such a shame. I don’t want to sound like I think Bias’ death is more tragic than any other death because I don’t. It’s sad when anyone chooses self destruction. The loss of life and the wasted potential is great regardless of who the person is. When someone high profile like Len Boas succumbs to this sort of thing it brings it more into focus. It’s a shame that it takes the death of a celebrity for people to realize it.
Grace and peace