30 Years Later, Stunning Death in Basketball Still Lingers Len Bias overdosed 2 days after being drafted by Celtics By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Jun 20, 2016 2:50 PM CDT 32 comments Comments A screen grab of Len Bias, when he played for Maryland. (YouTube) (Newser) – It was huge news 30 years ago almost to the day: College basketball phenom Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose just two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics. A look at coverage of the anniversary: Bias starred at the University of Maryland, and a feature in the Baltimore Sun includes a memory of his first game as a starter. He was a nervous kid for much of it, until teammate Pete Holbert committed a foul, and Bias then took control and led the Terps to an OT win. "It was like, 'This guy is going to be really good," recalls Holbert. That prediction proved true. The Washington Post quotes Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski as saying in 2003 that only two opposing players had stood out in his long career: Bias and a guy named Michael Jordan. "He could invent ways to score, and there was nothing you could do about it," the coach said of Bias. Another person put it this way: "He was It." After his death—"the cruelest thing I've ever heard," said Celtics great Larry Bird—Bias became a pawn in the war on drugs, writes Jon Schuppe at NBC News. His OD "sparked a panic, stoked by false rumors and a high-stakes political campaign, that culminated in a law that swept thousands of low-level drug offenders—most of them young and black—into prison." The effects of that law, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, still resonate today. Bias' mother, Lonise, lost a second son to a drive-by shooting a few years later, and has since worked as a community activist helping young people, reports WTOP. A post at Deadspin sums it up this way: "His death still makes everyone crazy."