The impact of former Maryland basketball superstar Len Bias, now a National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Famer, is still felt more than 35 years after his death, but his mother did not realize the impact that her son had until he passed away.
Bias touched scores of fans from Maryland and across the world during his life, and his story still resonates today. But no one knew Bias touched so many, not even his mother, Dr. Lonise Bias, who presented Bias for his posthumous enshrinement in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Nov. 21.
“We are a sports-oriented family, but I did not know who my son was 35 years ago,” Lonise said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 19. “I was just a mom, that’s it. … I mean, it wasn’t that I didn’t have an interest or anything like that. I didn’t know the magnitude [of his impact].”
Bias was phenomenal at Maryland, where he played from 1982-1986. In his four years, the 6-foot-8 forward scored a whopping 2,149 career points, which at the time was a school record. He earned ACC Player of the Year twice. He was also an All-American twice (first team in 1985-86 and second team in 1984-85).
After his playing days in College Park, Bias declared for the 1986 NBA Draft and came off the board as the second overall pick by the Boston Celtics. However, Bias passed away two days after the draft in his Maryland dorm room. Autopsies revealed that Bias overdosed on cocaine.
Lonise felt the pain of losing a son when Bias died. A few years after Bias’ death, more tragedy struck. On Dec. 5, 1990, Bias’ younger brother, Jay, was killed in a drive-by shooting. However, Lonise believed their voices still needed to be heard.
Lonise explained that talking about the passing of her children hasn’t been easy, though.
“I really have no strength of my own,” Lonise said. “I tell people all of the time, if God had come to me that you were going to do great things and you were going to get accolades such that I am receiving today and people will know you worldwide, but guess what? You have to lose, not one son but two sons … I would have said, ‘Get yourself another girl, not me,’ but God has downloaded me with the strength and a mission to go forth believing that the best is yet to come.”
Lonise says her family’s tragedies have put her on a mission to change the world for the better by helping people around the world through motivational speaking and more. For the past 35 years, Lonise has been sharing her story and helping people push through their own struggles.
Lonise mentioned that she recently did a podcast interview that helped a listener cope with grief.
“It doesn’t bring your loved one back but it brings comfort in knowing that you’re just not the only one going through [this] and that this is a part of life,” Lonise said. “Life is the bowl with the lemon and honey in it. Sometimes it’s sweet and sometimes it’s bitter.”
Bias has still touched many fans in the decades since his passing. Lonise explained that when she is out in public, some fans of her son have walked up to her with tears in their eyes talking about their memories of Bias.
Bias will forever live on in the hearts of many after his enshrinement in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, and his name will never be forgotten.
“I am in awe, really, that we’re even having this conversation today,” Lonise said. “… Here we are today, celebrating his legacy and the man that he was.”
For more from Bias, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of University of Maryland Archives