Len Bias statue proposed at his high school alma mater - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Len Bias statue proposed at his high school alma mater

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HYATTSVILLE, Md. -

A Maryland legislator wants to erect a statue of Len Bias in front of the Prince George's County high school from which Bias graduated.

Bias, one of the all-time great basketball players at the University of Maryland, died of a cocaine overdose just days after being drafted into the NBA.

Today's students at Northwestern High School in Prince George's County weren't even born when Bias electrified Maryland and much of the nation. Bias, while playing for the Terrapins, was ACC Player of the Year twice.

But in 1986, two days after being chosen as the No. 2 NBA draft pick, Bias overdosed on cocaine in a College Park dorm room and died.

Maryland State Senator Victor Ramirez was 12 years old when that happened. Ramirez, too, went to Northwestern High School, and he has proposed that a statue memorializing Bias' accomplishments be erected at the high school.

In an interview, Sen. Ramirez told us, "I think we shared a lot of the same dreams: how do we get out. How do we make a better life for ourselves. And he was a symbol of that. He was a symbol of hope for a lot of us growing up at that particular time. I believe he made a lot of us look at the University of Maryland, and say, 'I, too, want to go to the University of Maryland. I, too, want to go to college.'"

Some may find the suggestion controversial, but Sen. Ramirez believes even Bias' death from cocaine was a lesson for young people in America.

"I believe that he made people more aware that anything can happen [when using drugs]," explained the legislator. "Even if it's your first time."

So far, Sen. Ramirez has failed to find any state money for a Len Bias statue at Bias' high school alma mater. And even if the senator finds private funding for the project, some school board members are cool to the idea.

District 8 school board member Edward Burroughs told us: "We have several inspirational figures in Prince George's County. And I believe that if we erect this statue, the next senator is going to erect another statue. And ... if we're going to spend money, let's do it in educating kids."

Sen. Ramirez also encourages the University of Maryland to memorialize Bias' athletic accomplishments. That, too, may be a tough sell. After Bias' death, it came out that the player was 21 credits short of graduation requirements. The investigation also revealed Bias was using cocaine with several teammates.

Ultimately, Maryland's athletic director resigned, and so did the university's long-time basketball coach, Lefty Driesell.


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