The Great Traffic Light

“Leonard Saved My Life”

Lefty Driesell, Len Bias’ coach at Maryland, finds solace in Len’s legacy when he tells the following story. During the early summer of 2010, a man approached Driesell as they walked out of church near Driesell’s home in Virginia Beach. “Someone said, ‘Aren’t you Lefty Driesell? I was always a big Maryland fan, and Leonard was one of my favorite players,’ ” says Driesell.

The man explained that shortly before Bias’s death, he had reached a personal low, losing his job and his family due to a cocaine addiction. When friends told the man that Bias had died, he immediately stopped abusing cocaine. Says Driesell: “He said Leonard saved his life.”

Who knows how many lives have been saved, and how many more will be for decades to come? Brian Straus had no connection to Bias other than growing up in the Washington area and watching him play on TV and was not a rabid fan of either the Terrapins or the Celtics. He was raised in white upper-middle-class suburbia. But when I told Straus, a longtime friend and an accomplished soccer journalist, that I was writing a book about the legacy of Bias, his immediate reaction surprised me.

“He was the reason I never used cocaine,” Straus says. “He was exactly the reason when I was at parties in college at [the University of Pennsylvania] and saw people do cocaine and I didn’t try it. He was the great traffic light, the devil on your shoulder saying don’t do it. It wasn’t an essay question. It was just like a punch in the gut that told you don’t touch this ever.”

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.

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