As a tribute to one of its greatest, the University of Maryland has inducted Len Bias into its Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bias is one of the greatest college basketball players in the history of the ACC, but fans never got a chance to know how he would stack up against the best of the NBA.
Early in the morning on June 19, 1986, less than two days after he was drafted #2 overall by the Boston Celtics, Bias died from what was later revealed to be a cocaine overdose.
A supreme athlete with talent to spare, his life ended all too early at the hands of a vicious drug, one that he had had no encounter with before that fateful morning. As the various accounts of witnesses poured in over the years, it was determined that Bias was in awe of what had transpired on draft night and felt overwhelmed about the future that lied ahead of him. The fateful night led him from Boston back to College Park and to several social events.
The early morning ended with Bias and a few friends and teammates settling into his campus dorm room. Possibly as a way to cope with the mounting expectations from friends and family, as well as an NBA populace, Bias and the others allegedly took turns snorting cocaine. A few hours later, Bias began to have seizures and passed out. Friends called for medical help, and was rushed to a nearby hospital, but Bias was pronounced dead just over two hours later.
As Bias left Maryland to follow his NBA dreams, the scouting reports were flattering and staggering.
"Len Bias is the closest thing to Michael Jordan to come out in a long time," Celtics scout Ed Badger told reporters at the time. "He's an explosive and exciting kind of player like [Jordan]."
Whether the 6-8 Bias was a naive - if not innocent - victim of a momentary lapse of reason, or if he faced a demise too often reticent of such voluntary drug use, his story was and has been met with sorrow more so than failure.
That being said, there are those who believe that Bias, because of his singular mistake, has no place in the Maryland Hall of Fame. Indeed, the school HOF has a bylaw that instructs anyone who has brought "any embarrassment or disrepute" to the university should not be inducted.
However, Kevin Glover, the executive director of the M Club, has finally reached a conclusion that Bias’ overall contribution to Maryland means more than his one fatal mistake.
“I just think the selection committee took a lot of time and effort to look at his stats, to look at his accomplishments while he was here as a student-athlete and we just felt like the time was right,” said Glover, who is in charge of the Hall’s selection process. “We all know it's a very sensitive issue, a lot of changes were made to the university back in the day because of this situation. Once we discussed it and the votes came in, we decided it was time to move forward and honor one of our greatest student-athletes ever."