U of MD Alumni Remember #34

by Jamal Williams

On Friday June 19, the Howard County alumni association hosted a zoom call to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the death of Len Bias. With some 40 people on the call, featured guest Dave Ungrady, author of the book Born Ready: The Mixed Legacy of Len Bias, shared his fondest memories of what Bias meant to the school, his legacy as a basketball player and the effect his death had on the nation at large.

“I saw what Len’s death did to the athletic department…there were a lot of cases where people’s lives changed, negatively and positively,” said Ungrady, a 1980 graduate of Maryland who was a member of the soccer and track and field teams at the school.

Videos were used to show the legacy Bias left behind and why his story still resonates today. The videos depicted a possible matchup of Bias vs. Micheal Jordan in the NBA, explained the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act and showed the effect Bias’ death had on Len’s teammates, friends and family.

During the call former Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus recalled his memories of writing about Bias at Maryland. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that this guy was a stud,” he said.” I had just finished covering Chris Mullins (former St. John’s University basketball player), and even he couldn’t touch Len Bias in terms of his overall impact on a college basketball game.” 

Further, Markus described the fallout from Bias’ death as a blow to the athletic department at Maryland. Basketball head coach Lefty Driesell and football head coach Bobby Ross both resigned. “It really impacted the program for a long time,” said Markus. “It was not only the most important story I covered but it was the most long-lasting and far reaching story I covered in my career,” said Markus.

The 34 + 1 campaign promotes youth education

Ungrady also discussed the overall meaning behind the 34 + 1 campaign he created to help teach people about Bias’ story. “

We’re really trying to use this campaign as a way to educate teenagers and young adults about what happens when you make bad decisions,” said Ungrady.

Ungrady and Markus have begun work on a documentary about Bias that is part of the 34+1 campaign. 

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