Finding Meaning in the Death of Len Bias

Cocaine killed the athlete 22 years ago, but the impact lingers
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2008 2:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Twenty-two years ago, Celtics legend Larry Bird called the sudden death of new Boston draftee Len Bias "one of the the cruelest things I've ever heard." The legacy of the Maryland basketball great, whose NBA career ended with cocaine use just two days after it began, retains its nuance and potency even now, writes Michael Weinreb for ESPN.

In one sense, Bias' story is the ultimate cautionary tale. In1986, no one really believed that cocaine could fell a young athlete in his prime. And his death became the catalyst for tougher drug laws, whose consequences remain today. "In death," one author wrote, Bias "would become the Archduke Ferdinand of the Total War on Drugs."