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28 Years After Overdose Death, Len Bias Inducted Into University of Maryland Hall of Fame

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Maryland basketball player is getting a tribute some say is decades overdue. Len Bias died in 1986 from a cocaine overdose. The controversy surrounding his death kept him from getting into the Terps' Hall of Fame until now. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins takes a look at how this honor could pave the way for other tributes to Bias. (Published Thursday, Jul 17, 2014)

    A former University of Maryland basketball legend is getting a tribute some say is decades overdue.

    Len Bias died from a cocaine overdose two days after the Boston Celtics selected him second in the 1986 NBA Draft. His controversial death delayed his induction into the Terrapins’ Hall of Fame until now.

    This honor could pave the way for other tributes to Bias in the state.

    “He represented to a lot of us who grew up in the county a sign of hope that you can make it out of the neighborhood, and here was an example,” said Maryland Sen. Victor Ramirez, D-District 47.

    Ramirez, who graduated from Bias’ alma mater, Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, encountered major resistance when he tried to have a statue of Bias erected at the school last year.

    “I think people were still looking at the negative side of it and I think it was a learning experience for all of us,” he said.

    He hopes the Hall of Fame induction will lead to something being named after Bias in Prince George’s County.

    “To see him develop into the player and, really, the person that he was, I think that’s what’s kind of been forgotten here,” said Kevin Glover, a former NFL player who knew Bias well.

    Glover sat on the committee that voted Bias into the Hall this year, which wasn’t an easy decision.

    “A lot of spirited conversation,” he said. “Most of it was very good.”

    Bias’ coach at Maryland, Lefty Driesell, stepped down after his death along with many others connected to the program. Many considered his death an embarrassment, complicating his legacy.

    “We just feel the time is right,” Glover said. “It’s time for us to honor one of our greatest ever, and hopefully this will help heal some wounds in the process.”