Through everyone else's press conferences, through a grand jury investigation, through all the discord that has consumed the University of Maryland since June 19, James and Lonise Bias have kept their composure. Initially Mr. Bias criticized Lefty Driesell and the University, but the couple has not demanded resignations or placed the kind of public pressure upon officials that might be expected from a grieving family.
"They are remarkable people," Maryland chancellor John Slaughter says.
"There's nothing special about us," James said recently on a night when he was home with their three teenagers and Lonise was delivering her Christian antidrug message to a church gathering in Providence. "There can be no torment," James says, "when your conscience is clear and you know you've done all you can for your child. That makes it much easier. He had all the support and upbringing he needed to survive until such time as he left this house."
They have searched their minds for anything that could be a clue to Len's involvement with drugs, without success. James Bias says he knew nothing about Brian Tribble, his son's friend who, according to a grand jury source, is said to have brought the cocaine to Len Bias's Maryland dorm suite. James says Tribble may have come to their Landover home once with Len, but no one in the family really knew him.
The Biases' attorney, Wayne Curry, says the family is about $21,000 in debt from loans taken out by Len ($15,000) before the NBA draft and by his father ($6,000) to pay for Len's $1 million disability insurance with Lloyd's of London. Curry says the family will not likely benefit from Bias's insurance. The Boston Celtics gave the family $10,000; about 2,000 letters, some with contributions, have come in the mail. "They're not sitting on a fortune," says Curry, dispelling a notion held by some.
The rigors of college recruiting will soon be visited on the Biases again as coaches come to court Len's 6'6" brother, Jay, a talented high school junior. James says he will be wiser this time, but perhaps no less vulnerable. He says his son is not likely to attend Maryland. "If Jay wants to play ball, and he does, I'll be subject to the same people [that recruited Len]," James says. "He'll be locked into the same system Len was in. Maybe he can be more aware, more cautious...but they [the recruiters] will say the same things the others said. It is an amazing experience, and after what I've gone through, a very scary experience."
Slaughter (left) and Driesell (right) tried to comfort James Bias (center) at Len's funeral.