Intern Reflections – Lessons Learned from a Bad Decision

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.

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