Born Ready: The Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

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About the author:
Dave has been a print and broadcast journalist for more than 25 years and has worked at the Washington Post, AOL and Voice of America. He has produced and reported segments for ESPN, CNN, and NBC, among others. Most recently, Dave worked as a senior editor at Universal Sports and as editorial manager at

Dave has conducted exclusive, personal interviews with some of the top athletes in the world. They include soccer legend Pele, swimming sensation Michael Phelps, basketball great Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and track and field icon Carl Lewis.

His varied writings have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Sport Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine and others.

As a broadcaster, Dave has produced segments for CNN and ESPN and was the radio play-by-play voice for DC United of Major League Soccer. He has hosted World Cup soccer talk programs on XM Satellite Radio.

Dave is the author of three books on sports, including the best-selling Tales From the Maryland Terrapins, a Collection of the Greatest Stories Ever Told. His first book, Unlucky: A Season of Struggle in Minor League Professional Soccer, chronicles his efforts to play professional soccer for the first time at the age of 40; it received international acclaim.

His third book, Legends of Maryland Basketball, honors the top 25 basketball personalities in the history of the University of Maryland.

Dave maintains a lifelong passion for sports. He was an all-conference middle distance runner (800 meters) and a soccer player at the University of Maryland and was captain of the Terps track team in 1980. He was a New Jersey high school all-state selection in soccer and track and field and in October 2010 was inducted into the North Dame High School Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2008 Dave completed his first marathons, in Boston and New York City, and hopes someday to run another 26.2-mile race.

A native of Trenton, New Jersey, he lives with his wife Sharon and son Cayden in Northern Virginia.

Born Ready: The Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Authored by Dave J Ungrady

After the Boston Celtics made University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft on June 17, the player's future lay in front of him like a golden, red carpet leading to a life of good-fortuned fame.

The Celtics and others considered him to be the next great basketball star, following Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, at a time when the team returned to league supremacy and Michael Jordan had yet to establish his ultimate greatness. Bias played with a rare mix of athleticism, grace and controlled rage. Off the court, he was humble and personable, shy and at times socially adventurous and daring.

But Bias' death from cocaine intoxication two days after the draft altered the state of sports and drugs in a way that lingers today. The player's death was one of the cruelest tragedies in sports in the last quarter century. It still strikes the hearts and minds of many in a generation that witnessed the uncomfortable and developing synergy of big time sports and drug abuse.

I tried to humanize the story by focusing on how lives have been affected by his death and the compelling issues that have arisen from the tragedy. The book provides an underlying message of overcoming tragedy to thrive and, in some cases, just to survive, in life.

Bias's death forced American lawmakers to make tough choices about how to best deal with a developing drug crisis, with dubious consequences. It reinforced efforts by those in charge of administering college athletics to alter the way they guided student athletes. And Bias' death drastically changed the destinies of many who were closely connected to the athlete.

The book includes interviews with Bias's teammates and close friends; former University of Maryland athletics officials who reflect on the challenging years that followed his death; people who were greatly affected by federal drugs laws; and even a young man who claims to be his son. I talked with his mother as well.

As a former University of Maryland athlete (track and field and soccer) and a long-time Washington, D.C.-based journalist, I approached this project with passion and a unique perspective. I reported on Bias' death in 1986 as a community broadcaster while also working at the Washington Post.

This is my third book on athletics history at the University of Maryland, where i was a two sport athlete in track and field in soccer. I was captain of the track team in 1979-80. Go to for more information.

Publication Date:
1467972363 / 9781467972369
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6.69" x 9.61"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Sports & Recreation / Basketball / General

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