Archive for July, 2020

Intern Reflections – Lessons Learned from a Bad Decision

July 29, 2020

A trio of interns from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism supported production efforts for a documentary about Len Bias during the summer of 2020. They were asked to reflect on their experience.

by Kelsey Mannix

Before starting this internship, I didn’t know much about Len Bias. I’ve been a Maryland basketball fan for my entire life, but Bias played before I was born. After doing more research and reading Dave’s book, I knew this project would be interesting because there’s multiple levels to Bias’ story.

It’s crazy to think about how many people and institutions felt (and in some cases are still feeling) the ramifications of his death: family, friends, the University of Maryland and the United States as a whole. I didn’t know his death prompted drastic changes in prison sentences for people who committed drug offenses. Some people are still feeling those effects today, 34 years later.

While many people remember Bias for his talents on the basketball court, it’s important to also remember that he made a decision that changed his life and the lives of others. Nobody is perfect. Good people can make bad decisions. I know that firsthand; my cousin died of an overdose in 2005. While I mostly remember the good memories, I also remember that one decision changed everything. His passing made me more observant of my surroundings and cautious in my decision-making as I got older.

The lessons we can learn from decisions like these are just as important as preserving Bias’ legacy as an athlete and as a person. My hope is that going forward, people who don’t necessarily want to relive those fateful days in June 1986 can understand that one bad decision does not completely negate all of the positive aspects of Bias’ life, and telling his full story can have a positive impact on other people’s lives.

Thanks to Dave, Don and GoGrady Media for an eventful virtual internship this summer. I’m excited to use what I learned in the future as I finish up my master’s degree at UMD.

Intern Reflections – An Education About Len Bias

July 29, 2020

A trio of interns from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism supported production efforts for a documentary about Len Bias during the summer of 2020. They were asked to reflect on their experience.

by Jamal Williams

Upon taking the role of production assistant, I knew a little about the story of former Maryland basketball star Len Bias. He was destined for greatness because of his tall stature, powerful strength and soft touch jumper. Bias was compared to many basketball stars of his generation and  had him rivaling Micheal Jordan for greatest player of all time. 

I also knew that his life was cut short by a poor decision he made on June 19, 1986. Choosing to take drugs that night drastically turned answers we would have gotten about Bias’ basketball legacy into questions that are still left unanswered 34 years later.

Though I realized the impact his death had from a basketball standpoint, what I didn’t realize is the impact he would have on the school’s athletic department, the Boston Celtics future, and countless others in the country for years to come. Bias’ poor decision greatly affected loved ones, family and even those who never even knew who he was. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was written in response to his death. Many, particularly African Americans, were disproportionately imprisoned by the drug act. 

Bias’ death left the Maryland Athletic department looking for answers and assigning blame to those who didn’t even know he was taking drugs. It put more solace on coaches and staff to monitor athletes more closely, as well as making sure they were on top of their school work.

The Boston Celtics were left without a star to take the team after superstars Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Bill Walton were done playing. It felt like a curse had been placed on the franchise as another potential star, Reggie Lewis, died from using drugs in 1993. For years the franchise struggled to get back the glory they once had in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

I believe Bias’ story is one that needs to be told in its totality. The domino effect the one person had on countless others affected people negatively and positively. It was because of bias’ death that many people decided to never use drugs again. It opened my eyes to the underlying details of what went on that fateful night.

Going from location to location was an exciting way to meet new people and hear their stories on how Bias’ death affected them. Getting to put together pieces of work that helped contribute to the overall making of the documentary made me feel a sense of accomplishment. And standing over the gravesites of both Len and Jay Bias gave me a sense of how surreal this experience has been and that his story is not just one that sounds like an urban myth.

This experience has also helped me to witness the amount of work it takes to put a project like this together. From his book Born Ready:The Mixed Legacy of Len Bias to the 34+1 Campaign, Dave Ungrady has thoroughly studied the instances that made Bias’ legacy a complicated one. I admire his ability to put his all into teaching people that your mistakes can not only affect you, but have an impact on those around you. I’m also grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a great group of individuals: Don Markus, Alex Veizis, Casey Fair and Kelsey Mannix.

A Reflection on Len’s Legacy

July 27, 2020

A Look at His Most Memorable Moments

by Jamal Williams


In middle school, Len was cut not once, but twice, from the basketball team at Greenbelt Middle School. Those two setbacks led to a relentless determination for Bias to overcome his failures and become a great basketball player.


While in ninth grade, Len met Johnnie Walker, who played varsity basketball at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, the same high school where Len later played. Johnnie would later convince Len to start playing basketball with other boys at the Columbia Park Recreation Center near his home, also called “The Rec”, where Walker was a coach.

Walker taught Bias the fundamentals and toughened up Bias, who Walker called “a baby” when he started working with him. Walker also taught Bias conditioning with innovative exercises, such as plyometrics, which he learned from Bob Wagner, his former coach at Northwestern.

Intern Reflections – Project Increases Awareness of the Len Bias legacy

July 24, 2020

A trio of interns from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism supported production efforts for a documentary about Len Bias during the summer of 2020. They were asked to reflect on their experience.

by Casey Fair

Not only did I further my knowledge within the field of documentary production during my time as an intern for GoGrady Media this summer, I also increased my awareness and understanding of the University of Maryland’s complex history, specifically surrounding Len’s death.

The ripples from Bias’s death were felt for decades within the university’s community, from the athletic department’s budget cuts and personnel changes to how the student athletes were treated on campus. It will be interesting to see how the death of football player, Jordan McNair, impacts the campus in the years to come.

Even more interesting is the impact Bias’s death had on the whole country with drug incarcerations. New legislation was passed in response to Bias’s death which led to a lot of people getting increased sentences that led to increased prison populations and prison conditions worsening. The documentary, Born Ready: A Mixed Legacy, explores this topic heavily—arguably one of the biggest tragedies to come out of Bias’s death.

While I will not be able to see Born Ready: A Mixed Legacy through to the end of production, I look forward to the premiere and seeing the entirety of Len’s story get the recognition it deserves. 

Zoom Call To Promote BTN Broadcast of Terps 1984 ACC Tournament Win

July 17, 2020

Guests include Holbert, Dillard & Philbin

Holbert Will Explain the Mystery of His Missing ACC Title Ring

From: GoGradyMedia 


Former University of Maryland basketball forward Pete Holbert is scheduled as a featured guest on a zoom call next week that will promote an upcoming television broadcast of the 1984 Men’s ACC tournament title game won by Maryland. 

The call, hosted by GoGrady Media  (GGM), will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. The broadcast of the game on the Big Ten Network will air at 9 p.m. and is part of the network’s “Maryland Day”, 24-hours of game broadcast featuring 10 Terps sports. InsideMDSports will be a promotional sponsor for the call.

Holbert was mostly a reserve forward that year, starting one game. As a senior, he witnessed the slow progression of the Terps team from his freshman season. The Terps finished in second place in the ACC regular season in 1984, the highest finish in Holbert’s Maryland career.

Holbert entered Maryland in 1980 as a McDonald’s High School All-America out of Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia. He recorded his best season during his sophomore year, averaging more than five points per game. In 2016 he revealed in a Baltimore Sun story how he recovered his ACC title ring after losing it in 1987.

Dillard served as an assistant coach on the men’s team from 1979 to 1985. He is now a men’s assistant coach with the University of Iowa.

John Philbin, a Maryland strength coach in the early 1980s, will also be a guest on the call. Philbin, owner of Philbin’s Sports Performance, will explain the team’s approach to strength and conditioning at that time.

Maryland in 1984 won its second of three ACC men’s basketball tournament titles; it was the first for coach Lefty Driesell. Maryland also won conference tournament titles in 1958 and 2004.

GoGrady Media is the producer of a new documentary, in it preproduction phase, about the legacy of Len Bias, the former University of Maryland basketball star who died of complications from a drug overdose in 1986.  

Watch the documentary sizzle reel here.

As part of the call, GGM will announce a partnership with the Decision Education Foundation (DEF). DEF is a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the lives of young people by empowering them with effective Decision Skills. DEF has started a crowdfunding campaign to fiscally support production of GGM’s documentary, which is in the pre-production phase. Contributions to the crowdfunding campaign are tax-deductible.  

The documentary, tentatively titled Born Ready: A Mixed Legacy, is based on the book, Born Ready: The Mixed Legacy of Len Bias, written by GoGrady Media President Dave Ungrady. The documentary, an update of the book and The Born Ready Project that teaches decision making skills to teenagers and young adults, are all part of the newly launched 34+1 campaign. 

For more information, contact:  Dave Ungrady – President/Founder, GoGrady Media or Dana Luco, Marketing and Program Development, Decision Education Foundation,

P.O. Box 93 Clarksburg, MD 20871  @djungrady