His death shook not only the Maryland community, but the college basketball world and the nation. It reached beyond basketball and asked questions about race, class, and drug laws.
June 19 marks the 26th anniversary of the death of Maryland star Len Bias, the 6-8 forward who was drafted No. 2 overall by the Boston Celtics in 1986 and died tragically of a cocaine overdose two days later.
He was 22 years old.
Much of what has become of Len Bias’ story in the 26 years since his death has been a mix of a cautionary tale and a saddening reflection on what could have been for the league, the Boston Celtics, and the man himself, so full of potential in his time at Maryland.
He was the subject of a recent documentary “Without Bias,” that recounted the incident and the aftermath and received widespread critical acclaim.
Bias averaged 23.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in his senior season with Maryland and, when he was drafted, many thought he could be the infusion of youth and talent that could carry the Celtics franchise into the next decade.
Having come from the ACC, he was many times compared to Michael Jordan at North Carolina, with some saying he had the potential to rival Jordan in the NBA, as well.
Were he alive today, he would have been 48 years of age.
His death has become one of the rare “Do you remember where you were?” moments of the last three decades. Bill Simmons of ESPN, a New England native, wrote a piece about what he remembers from that day. Click here to read it, written in 2006.