Archive for October, 2013

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #32…Teammate Terry Long

October 31, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

Terry Long Stays Quiet

Terry Long appears to be the only member of the 1985-86 Maryland team who has not talked publicly about the Bias death aside from his statements made under oath during the Brian Tribble trial. During a brief phone call in the spring of 2011, he was asked to talk about how Bias’s death has affected his life. He responded twice, politely and calmly, saying, “I’m not interested.” In subsequent calls he provided only brief background information.

Teammate Jeff Baxter says Long returned to the Maryland campus for the first time when the school’s athletic department honored Driesell at a Maryland basketball game against North Carolina State in 2003. “I think Terry’s been deeply hurt about this whole event,” says Baxter. “He’s very standoffish. I think Terry thinks this is his fault. I think he would put that type of pressure on himself.”

Another teammate, Tom “Speedy” Jones says Long broke down and “told him everything” about how Bias died, but he did not provide details. He says that every time he talks to Long about Bias, he can still see the pain in Long’s eyes. Keith Gatlin, who entered Maryland the same year as Long, talks with him occasionally and visits him in Baltimore. He wishes Long would talk. “It would be therapeutic for Terry,” he says. “And the perception of Terry that he was a bad guy or not a good kid is something that is really not true.”

As of July 2011, Long was living in the Baltimore area with his wife and three other children. He worked at the W.R. Grace Company and as a part-time high-school basketball referee.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #31…Teammate David Gregg

October 31, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

Gregg Loses a “Cousin”

More than any other member of the 1985-86 team, David Gregg – coming from the same high school, playing for the same coach – lives in the large and looming shadow of Len Bias. During his freshman year at Maryland, Gregg developed a strong friendship with Bias. At 6 feet, 9 inches and just under 200 pounds, Gregg could have passed as Bias’s brother; in fact, they jokingly referred to each other as cousins.

But Gregg never got the chance to prove his worth at Maryland. Instead, he spent the summer of 1986 as a recluse, a reluctant participant in a great tragedy. His testimony before a grand jury investigating Bias’s death resulted in an indictment against him for possession of cocaine and obstruction of justice. The charges were dropped in exchange for testifying against Tribble at Tribble’s trial.

After he was indicted, Gregg was suspended from the basketball team for the next season, but he continued to attend classes and played in occasional pickup games. In early July 1987, Gregg announced that he would transfer from Maryland. “It’s been very tough,” Gregg said at the time. “Wherever I go, people point and say, ‘Oh, there goes David Gregg.’ I’ve been getting more attention for this than I did for my basketball.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #30…Ross Resigns

October 30, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

Unsure of Academic Standards, Ross Quits

Head football coach Bobby Ross’s reaction to a win in the last game, against Virginia in Charlottesville, typified the feelings of that season. On the first half of his car ride home, he traveled north on Virginia Route 29, a rolling four-lane highway that passes through the bucolic Shenandoah Valley of central Virginia. Such a drive normally prompts peaceful and reflective thoughts. But despite the Terrapins’ commanding 42- 10 win, the mood on the ride back for Ross, his wife and four of his five children was far from either serene or celebratory. It was during that 2 1/2-hour ride that the Ross family had a long talk about Dad’s future. They decided that he would step down as Maryland’s head coach. Maryland finished the season 5-5-1. It was the worst record in Ross’s five year Maryland career.

Not long before that ride, Ross had met with acting Athletic Director Charles Sturtz to discuss the university’s admissions policy and how it might affect the future of Maryland athletics. In the meeting, Ross sought clarification about Maryland’s admissions policy, which was being scrutinized following Bias’s death. He was told it could be as long as three or four years before it would all be settled. “That’s when I started to think about it,” says Ross. “Not having a defined direction and all the other distractions, I felt it was time to move on.” Ross resigned on December 1, 1986, and says he told his players he was leaving because he felt “at that time, they needed a change, and I needed a change.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #29…Johnson Rocked by Death

October 29, 2013

Freshman John Johnson Loses Interest in Basketball

Freshman John Johnson says after Len Bias dead he and most of his Maryland teammates went back to their rooms and stayed there, relying on friends to provide food for up to a week until the media throng finally left the area. They turned away a grief counselor. “I remember Speedy [Jones] [telling them] we didn’t need any help,” he says.

It wasn’t until a woman who Johnson says was close to Bias stopped by the apartment and was consoled that he realized the full impact of what had happened. Before that, he says, “Everyone was locked in their own little mourning,” he says. Johnson remembers finding comfort in a darkened, somber room, with curtains drawn, repeatedly listening to Prince sing “Sometimes it Snows in April.” The song tells of the death of a friend. “The irony of that song, snowing in April, some people think it’s unheard of,” he says. “There it was for me, a situation I would have never believed in a million years. It took a lot of fortitude and prayer to come out of that situation and not be a basket case.” Johnson’s Maryland mojo faded the night Bias died.

The game became – and remains – a chore. Upset about the negative reports about Maryland players using drugs and failing classes, he shut down, mostly giving up on summer school. He recalled the first class he attended after Bias died, which took place in a huge lecture hall. He and a friend walked through a door at the front of the hall, visible to all who had already taken their seats. The buzz of idle chatter suddenly stopped. He walked through row after row of students, all silent, taking a seat at the back. “You could hear crickets,” he says. “I don’t know what they said about me. Did they associate me with being a drug head? I started feeling bad. ‘What are these people thinking?’ I wasn’t ready for that.” He lasted 15 minutes, then left.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #28…Keith Gatlin struggles

October 28, 2013

Keith Gatlin struggles

Keith Gatlin, a junior point guard on the 1986 Maryland team, admits that he was in denial, struggling with the fact that his close friend had died from a drug he never saw or even heard of him using. He tried to escape by attending the graduation of a friend at Pepperdine University in California, but he quickly found that a change of venue even some 3,000 miles away did little good. “I get off the plane, and one of the first people I see says, ‘Hey, ain’t you Gatlin? Man, what happened to Lenny Bias?’ ” he said in the Post. “And I figured if I can’t go to Malibu Beach to escape this stuff, then my mother is right. I can’t run from it.” “I was getting ridiculed and I had nothing to do with it,” he says in 2010. “I’m thinking this is crazy. I was guilty by association. Because we played at Maryland, everybody perceived us as being a pot smoker and bad kids. I felt like everybody on the team was being targeted. I was very bitter. We were young men having a great time in college.”

After Maryland coach Driesell was removed and athletic director Dick Dull resigned, Gatlin felt he had lost any remaining support at the school. “You couldn’t turn to no one and not think they won’t stab you in the back,” he says. Admittedly distracted, Gatlin failed to register for classes in the fall semester and was ruled ineligible for the 1986-87 season. (Media reports claimed that Gatlin couldn’t register due to unpaid parking tickets, but he says the amount he owed would not have prevented him from signing up for classes.) Gatlin would likely have missed at least the early part of the season, regardless: He says he had knee surgery that summer to repair a damaged ligament. He admits that his thoughts were far from basketball and school. “I took the wrong approach,” he says. “I was young, I felt like ‘This is not fair.’ Instead of handling it like an adult, I went into a shell and had the ‘F the world’ mentality. That lasted the whole year for me.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #27…Self-Induced Scrutiny

October 26, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

Task Forces and a Review

Within weeks of Len Bias’s death, Maryland Chancellor John Slaughter appointed J. Robert Dorfman, a university physics professor, to serve as the chairman of a task force to review the academic practices of the athletic department. He disagrees with Dull’s assertion that Bias’s death disrupted the relationship between athletics and academics. Rather, he says, it made such big headlines that it drew the whole university community together to focus on academics and athletics. “Many faculty came up to me afterward and told me they had learned a great deal from the reporting and the television interviews. They had a better understanding of what was going on in the athletic department.”

Slaughter also initiated a task forces to examine the school’s policies related to education and drug-abuse prevention. Further, Slaughter asked University of Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham to lead a group to review the athletic department’s structure and efficiency. That review stated the department was overstaffed and disorganized, leading to the release of more than a dozen staff members in January 1987. The academic-achievement task force released its report on September 30, 1986. It recommended a number of reforms, some of which were implemented as early as the winter of 1987.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #26…Dull Displaced

October 25, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

“I don’t have regrets.”

On the morning of June 19, 1986, Maryland Athletic Director Dick Dull was home when Maryland Assistant Vice President John Bielec called to inform him of Bias’s death. Dull immediately called Jeff Hathaway, an assistant athletic director, to go to Leland Memorial Hospital in nearby Riverdale and confirm the news. The tragedy turned Dull’s world upside down. “I was in shell shock for about six weeks,” he says. “You go from being the fair-haired boy to people calling for you to leave. It was difficult for me to handle. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.”

Dull says he felt as if he were one of the main characters in what he called “a Greek tragedy” in which there were no winners. “I can remember walking out of my office to go to the bathroom, and someone would be following me down the hallway. It was like that every day.”

When Dull publicly stated that head basketball coach Lefty Driesell should keep his job despite the fact that he was part of a grand jury investigation, he sensed his own job was in jeopardy. It was a move that helped convince Maryland Chancellor John Slaughter that a change was needed. “Dr. Slaughter told me ‘I wish you hadn’t said that.’ He felt he had to make a decision about Driesell,” Dull says. “I painted myself in a corner because of my support for Lefty. We agreed that the situation was not going to go away unless I stepped away. I don’t have regrets.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #25…Indicted

October 24, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

Crimes Committed

After Len Bias went into seizures the morning of June 19, Terry Long  tried to resuscitate him with CPR while a shaking David Gregg held the unconscious player. Long said Gregg then took the cocaine and a mirror used to snort the cocaine out of the room. During his testimony at Tribble’s trial, Gregg said that he placed the cocaine in a container, then placed the mirror and the container in a dirty bag in Long’s closet.

According to a paramedic who attended to Bias at the room, Gregg and Long never told him that Bias had been using cocaine, a fact that could have saved his life.

Long and Greg were both brought up on criminal charges related to Bias’ death. both for possessing cocaine and obstructing justice. Charges were dropped in exchange for agreeing to testify against Brian Tribble.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #24…Final Hours, Part 2

October 23, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

“We’re all [expletive] up.”

Shortly after 2:30 a.m. on June 19, Bias woke up David Gregg and told Gregg and Terry Long to get some beer from a nearby refrigerator. Long and Gregg saw a mound of cocaine on a mirror on the desk when they returned to Long’s room. After Gregg asked Bias and Brian Tribble where the cocaine came from, Long said, “Tribble said something about getting it from the bottom of a stash and they planned to get a kilo the next day.”

Long, Gregg, Bias and Tribble started snorting the cocaine through cut straws until about 3 a.m. when Jeff Baxter knocked on Long’s door. Long told Tribble to put the cocaine away when Baxter knocked because the players knew Baxter did not use drugs. Baxter stayed for about 15 minutes. The others then resumed snorting cocaine. Tribble went to the bathroom, stumbled back to Long’s room and said, “We’re all [expletive] up.” Long added that they all felt much the same way.

They snorted cocaine until sometime after 6 a.m. Bias then rested on Long’s bed for about five minutes before struggling to go to the bathroom because he was wobbly. Bias then suffered a seizure. Long placed a pair of scissors in Bias’s mouth to prevent him from biting his tongue while Gregg held Bias’s feet. Tribble called his mother who told him to call the county emergency number for an ambulance. Tribble made the emergency call at 6:32 a.m.

After the ambulance took Bias to the hospital, Long cleaned the empty beer bottles and cut straws from his room and emptied them into a dumpster behind the dormitory. Bias was pronounced dead at the hospital at 8:55 a.m. Cocaine intoxication was later determined to be the cause.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #23…Final Hours, Part 1

October 22, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

“We’re Going to Celebrate”

Bias stayed in Boston the following day to meet with representatives of Reebok and the Boston media. The following description of how Bias’s last night evolved is based on testimony by Terry Long at the trial of Brian Tribble, according to reports, and from portions of the documentary Without Bias.

Bias returned to his dormitory suite at Washington Hall after 10:30 p.m. on June 18 with a bag full of Reebok shoes and Boston Celtic jerseys. David Gregg, a freshman basketball player, and Maryland football players Brian (Keeta) Covington and Ben Jefferson were there eating crabs. Bias wanted them to have a party, Long testified. “We’re going to celebrate,” Bias said to Gregg, Covington and Jefferson.

About 20 minutes later, Bias left the suite at about 11:30 p.m. with Madelyne Woods, a friend of Bias’s who stopped by to visit. Bias said he had to “go drain his lizard.”

“We knew what he meant,” Long said. “He said he hadn’t been with a girl in three days.” Long and Gregg walked to a nearby convenience store to buy soft drinks and went to sleep when they returned. At around 2:30 a.m., Bias, who was with Tribble, knocked on Long’s bedroom door and said “Wake the [expletive] up. We’re gonna celebrate.”

 

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.