Bias after being selected in the 1986 NBA draft.
|Born||Leonard Kevin Bias|
November 18, 1963
|Died||June 19, 1986 (aged 22)|
|Listed height:||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)|
|Listed weight:||210 lbs (95 kg)|
|NBA Draft||1986 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd|
|Selected by the Boston Celtics|
|Career highlights and awards|
Leonard Kevin Bias (November 18, 1963 – June 19, 1986) was an American college basketball player who attended the University of Maryland. During his four years playing for Maryland, he was named a first-team All-American. Two days after being selected by the Boston Celtics with the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft, Bias died from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose.
Bias was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. He was one of four children born to James Bias Jr and Dr Lonise Bias. He had a sister, Michelle, and two brothers, Eric and James III (James III was known as "Jay").
From Landover, Maryland, Bias graduated from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Bias attended the University of Maryland. As a freshman, he was viewed as "raw and undisciplined," but ultimately, Bias developed into an All-American player. In his junior year, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring and was named the ACC's Player of the Year. His senior season was highlighted by his performance in an overtime victory against top-ranked North Carolina in which he scored 35 points, including 7 in the last 3 minutes of regulation and 4 in overtime. At the end of the year, Bias collected his second ACC Player of the Year award and was named to two All-America teams.
Bias impressed basketball fans with his amazing leaping ability, his physical stature and his ability to create plays, and was considered one of the most dynamic players in the nation. By his senior year, scouts from various National Basketball Association teams viewed Bias as the most complete forward in the class of 1986. Celtics scout Ed Badger called Bias an "explosive and exciting kind of player" and compared him to Michael Jordan.
NBA draft, drug overdose, and death
On June 17, 1986, Bias was selected by the Boston Celtics as the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft, which was held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Red Auerbach, the Celtics' president and general manager, had dealt guard Gerald Henderson and cash to the Seattle SuperSonics for the pick in 1984. After the draft, Bias and his family returned to their suburban Maryland home. On June 18, 1986, Bias and his father flew to Boston, Massachusetts, from Washington, D.C., for an NBA club draft acceptance and product endorsement signing ceremony with the Celtics' coaches and management. Bias had discussions with Reebok's sports marketing division regarding a five-year endorsement package worth $1.6 million.
After returning home to Maryland, Bias drove back to the campus of the University of Maryland. He left campus at approximately 2 a.m. on Thursday, June 19, 1986, drove to an off-campus gathering, and returned to his dormitory between 2:30 and 3 a.m. For the next three to four hours, Bias, with longtime friend Brian Tribble and several teammates, snorted cocaine in the dormitory suite shared by Bias and his teammates. Bias reportedly had a seizure and collapsed while talking with teammate Terry Long. At 6:32 a.m., when Tribble called 911, Bias was unconscious and not breathing. All attempts by the emergency medical team to restart his heart and breathing were unsuccessful. After additional attempts to revive him at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, Maryland, Bias was pronounced dead at 8:55 a.m. of a cardiac arrhythmia related to usage of cocaine. It was reported that there were no other drugs or alcohol found in his system.
Four days after Bias died, more than 11,000 people attended a June 23 memorial service at the Cole Field House, the university recreation and student center where Bias played for the Terrapins. Those speaking at the service included Red Auerbach, who said he had planned for three years to draft Bias for the Celtics. On June 30, 1986, the Celtics honored Bias with their own memorial service, giving his never-used #30 Celtics jersey to his mother, Lonise.
Bias was interred at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.