Posts Tagged ‘death’

Maryland basketball star Len Bias: remembering ACC great who died 26 years ago

July 8, 2012

The poster is old and wrinkled, gathering dust. Len Bias is slamming home one of his ferocious dunks. The caption reads, “I’m Bias. Maryland is number one.”

It has been 26 years since Maryland basketball superstar Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose in a dorm room. Bias’ sudden death became the biggest story in the history of Washington, D.C. area sports, and one of the biggest news stories in the city’s history. How could such a seemingly invincible player be gone all of a sudden, just two days after being drafted second overall in the 1986 draft by the Boston Celtics?

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.
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Washington Post fails to mention 25th anniversary of death of Len Bias, ignoring biggest D.C. sports story ever

June 19, 2011

The Washington Post has ignored the 25th anniversary of the death of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.  It’s only the biggest D.C. sports story ever.  A few days ago they ran a story by Dave Ungrady urging Maryland to put Bias in its athletic Hall of Fame, but other than that, the Bias story barely got a mention here:

“Today is Sunday, June 19, the 170th day of 2011. There are 195 days left in the year. This is Father’s Day.”  They proceed to mention one sentence about Bias.  Then they mention today’s birthdays.  I love how they say “there are 195 days left in the year.”  Thanks.  This is what radio stations in Podunk, Iowa do.

The Post’s sports page used to be great.  They still have good beat writers, and Jason Reid is an excellent columnist who writes clearly and strongly, without name dropping or using “I” 100 times per article like Mike Wise.  But for such a good paper the sports page is lacking.

Whatever happened to the Washington Times sports page with great writers like Thom Loverro, Dave Elfin, Dick Heller, and Dan Daly?  You could always count on them.

Anyway, maybe they did something on Bias and it’s just impossible to find.  But I think it shows gross negligence to completely ignore the 25th anniversary of Bias’ death.  Though Mike Wilbon got very arrogant in the past few years, he would have probably done an article if he were still employed by the Post.  And where is John Feinstein? It’s not too late for him to do something in the next week.  All these guys have become big stars – that’s part of the problem.

The Post’s coverage of Bias’ death was excellent. A quarter century later, they are asleep at the wheel.

To see my Examiner.com article on the death of Len Bias, published today, click here.

25 years ago Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose

June 19, 2011

The grave of Len Bias. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Twenty-five years ago today something happened that was so shocking that it was hard to fathom that it really took place.

On June 19, 1986, University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

The scene that morning, as documented in news reports, was surreal and tragic as family members and teammates learned the news after gathering at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, Maryland.

Kirk Fraser recounted the story of Bias’ death in an ESPN documentary, 30 for 30: Without Bias.

It was like a nightmare that seems so real and then you wake up.  Only this was real.  It haunts Maryland fans to this day.

Bias was not only the best player ever at Maryland, he was the greatest player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was better than Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, David Thompson, and Ralph Sampson. Bias was a power forward with the strength of a center, the quickness of a small forward and the touch of a shooting guard. But that doesn’t come close to telling the story.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Mason Alert would help prevent wandering, drowning deaths of children, adults with autism

October 28, 2010

Mason Medlam, 5, drowned July 27 in a pond after wandering from his home near Colwich, Kansas. Mason was non-verbal and had autism.

Wandering and drowning are leading causes of death for children with autism, who often have limited communication abilities, impulsive behaviors, and a lack of a sense of danger. On July 27, 2010, Mason Allen Medlam, a 5-year old non-verbal boy with autism, wandered away from his home near Colwich, Kansas and drowned in a pond. His family has set up the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism Safety to prevent future deaths due to wandering, which is a major problem among children with autism.  The family is advocating for a “Mason Alert” that would provide authorities with a registry about children who are at risk for wandering so they can be found more easily.  You can sign their petition here.

The federal AMBER Alert is only for children who have been abducted, but the Mason Alert would cover children and adults with autism and other disabilities who are at risk for wandering.  The Silver Alert is primarily designed for Alzheimer’s patients.

Mason’s mother, Sheila Medlam, spoke in front of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Friday at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and told the group, “You have to do something now.  Politics shouldn’t be involved.  These children, they are gone forever.  You don’t have time to wait.  You need to do something now.”  Members of the National Autism Association also spoke about the problem of wandering and safety.

Medlam described to the group how her son, who was fascinated by water, wandered from the house one day through a window. The Medlams were vigilant about safety.  Sheila Medlam said she never slept more than a foot from Mason.  The family had multiple locks on every door because they knew Mason was skilled at opening

Mason Medlam

locks.  But on this day the temperature was 105 degrees and the air conditioner was broken. Mason got out through a window. A frantic search was unsuccessful and Medlam found Mason drowned in a pond.

Medlam said a registry would have saved Mason’s life by identifying his attraction to water.  Authorities would have likely searched around the nearby pond.  Instead, Medlam says, they didn’t take her request seriously.

“By the time I pulled him out of the pond, he had only been gone for a few minutes.  The police had actually been there for about 15.  At any point if they had gone to the pond they could have saved Mason,” Medlam said.

After flying in from halfway across the country, Medlam had her presentation cut short, a bit rudely (although surely no disrespect was intended), by the chairman of the committee because of time constraints. She wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  Welcome to Washington. But her speech was extraordinary and compelling, and by the end of the meeting the IACC had voted to establish a subcommittee devoted to safety issues.

Medlam left the room for a while, and I later caught up with her and interviewed her for Examiner.com.  She described what a sheer joy her son was, and talked about her favorite memories of Mason.  She told of how he looked at the world as a beautiful place, and how he had no fear of danger.

She said when she first got the news that Mason had autism, she was scared.

“I thought it was the worst news in the world,” she said.

Mason Medlam

“And then I got to know Mason and there was never one second where I would have traded him for a different child without autism, never one second.  Everything he lacked he made up for in some other way.  The absolute beauty, you could just see it in his eyes.  He saw nothing bad in the world. There was nothing bad in the world. And it’s just constant devastation.  It’s a horrific thing to lose your child.”

In the three months since Mason’s death, Medlam has worked as an advocate for safety for children with autism.  “I want him to save all his brothers and sisters that have the same problems and issues that he had,” she said.

Just this year there have been multiple cases of children with autism wandering and drowning. During her presentation, Medlam held up photos of her son and eight other children who died after wandering. The cases below are hauntingly similar.

Click here for an article listing earlier deaths of children with autism due to of wandering.

The proposed Mason Alert is picking up steam, and Medlam hopes that someday, perhaps soon, law enforcement agencies will create a national registry that would contain not only photos and contact information of people at risk for wandering, but their fascinations, locations of nearby hazards such as pools and ponds, how they react under stress, their communication abilities, and how to approach them.

No matter what happens, Mason will go down as a hero for the awareness raised after his tragedy.

Click here for the Examiner.com article about autism wandering and the proposed Mason Alert.  Click here for a video tribute to Mason.

Remembering Len Bias: Former Terrapin basketball superstar died of a cocaine overdose 24 years ago

June 19, 2010

The photo from this Washington Post article on Bias during his junior year is faded, but memories of Bias remain for Maryland fans.

Twenty-four years ago today something happened that was so shocking that it was hard to fathom that it really took place.

On June 19, 1986, University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

The scene that morning, as documented in news reports, was surreal and tragic as family members and teammates learned the news after gathering at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale.

Kirk Fraser recounted the story of Bias’ death in an ESPN documentary, 30 for 30: Without Bias.

See the rest of my article at Examiner.com here.

See highlights of Bias here.

Memorable Quotes from Patrick Swayze’s character Bodhi in “Point Break”

September 16, 2009

With the sad death of Patrick Swayze from pancreatic cancer, here are some memorable quotes from “Point Break,” a surfing movie with a bunch of flaws but still a cult classic and a great movie.  I have it as my 10th greatest movie of all time if you click on the “Movies” section of my blog to the right.

“This was never about money for us.  It was about us against the system.  That system that kills the human spirit.  We stand for something.  To those dead souls inching along the freeways in their metal coffins, we show them that the human spirit is still alive.”

“Yo, Johnny!  I’ll see you in the next life!”

“Life sure has a sick sense of humor, doesn’t it?”