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Monday, June 19, 2006

Len Bias -- gone 20 years now

Do you remember hearing the shocking news about the death of University of Maryland basketball player and Boston Celtics pick Len Bias? At 19 years old the thought that someone so athletically gifted, so young could be gone was stunning. And that it was from cocaine was even more shocking. It shouldn't have been a shock. Cocaine was all over college campuses in the '80s.

Todays' Washington Post has an interesting retrospective on Bias' life and death. Reporters relive with others the night he died of a cocaine overdose just days after he was the second pick in the NBA draft, how the University of Maryland - College Park was forced to reveal the low academic performance of its basketball athletes and how NBA greats welcomed the chance to go head-to-head on the court with this young phenom.

But the piece in the retrospective that really moved me was this one about his mother, Lonise. She has turned Len's tragic death, and that of his younger brother Jay a few years later, into an educational opportunity. She has found strength in God and the grace to persevere in the wake of knife-piercing pain. As a mother, I am in awe of her strength and grace.

As I read the story I learned that Len had two other siblings. The article doesn't give their names, ages or even say whether or not they are brothers or sisters. I wanted to know, but I respect their need for being something other than the late Len and Jay Bias' siblings. Today they have their own children and the article ends with sentiments of a grandmother who knows how to find the spirit of her lost sons in the laughter of her grandchildren.

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