30 Years in 30 Days: Day 21- The curious case of Derrick Lewis

Piggybacking off of yesterday's surreal Len Bias-Reggie Lewis college matchup, we remember back to one incident that has been swept under the rug to say the least over the years.  It involved Reggie's college teammate Derrick Lewis (not to be confused with Len's college teammate at Maryland with the same name, Derrick Lewis, who had his own interesting Boston Celtics' tale here.)

Derrick Lewis told the Boston Globe that he used cocaine along with Reggie Lewis (who he has no relation), Len Bias, and a fourth unnamed man at a McDonalds in Marshfield, MA in the summer of 1985.  That summer they were camp counselors at Red Auerbach’s camp.

The quote:
"Someone -- I ain't gonna say who -- had a half gram of cocaine," Lewis said in the Globe. "We went into the McDonald's. It was real late, so nobody was there. Len went into the bathroom, took a toot, then me, then Reggie, then the next guy. We'd make sure nobody was coming. Then we went and had a couple of beers at another place and got real toasted. Then we went home. After that, we never talked about it."

However after making this claim he then refuted it, saying it wasn’t true and that Reggie didn’t participate.
"So many accusations, so many rumors. I have to clear things up," said Lewis. "I felt pressure from the media to say some things because I feared they were going to make me the supplier, like Brian Tribble in the Len Bias case, if indeed they found out Reggie died of cocaine. People now think I sold Reggie out, that I'm trying to make money off him," said Lewis. "No one has ever paid me a cent. Nothing. What I was trying to do was clear my name, set the record straight. But some statements that were made off the record were printed, and they are lies."

But it didn’t stop.

Derrick Lewis spent three additional days around this time in an expensive Baltimore hotel room paid for by the Wall Street Journal for security reasons, Lewis and a spokesman for the newspaper confirmed.

Lewis told the Journal he had been threatened and feared retaliation once the paper published its story March 20, 1995 that reported that Lewis said former Boston Celtics and Dunbar High standout Reggie Lewis had used cocaine.

Derrick Lewis entered the hotel the evening of Sunday, March 19, 1995.  Derrick Lewis said:
"I told them if they ran the story, it would put my life in jeopardy.  I told them there was no way they were going to leave me out there."

Lewis, who said he never reported threats to the police, said he was accompanied most of the time at the hotel by a friend he called Kevin. Lewis said he also invited several friends to the hotel the Tuesday night before checking out and returning to his East Baltimore home.

Lewis, who at the time worked part time for a painting and cleaning company, stayed on the gold card Club Level, which features special amenities such as a hospitality suite with free breakfasts and evening cocktails. The room costed nearly $200 a night (in 1995).

Roger May, a spokesman for the Wall Street Journal at the time, said the paper agreed to pay for the room, and for Derrick Lewis to be driven from the interview in Washington to Baltimore. He said there also was a modest baby-sitting expense for his son.
"He expressed concern, and we felt a responsibility to provide him with three nights," said May, who called it an isolated incident and declined to release the amount of the charges. "This is not a standard practice of this paper, but the security of Mr. Lewis was in question. There was no payment for a news story, and there was a stipulation that we were only going to pay for the room charges and reasonable food expenses."
While in the hotel room, Lewis said:
"I know this looks bad. People are going to say I sold Reggie out, staying in a nice hotel room. But that's not the case. Hey, I've stayed in hotel rooms all over the country, and in Europe, from Finland to Germany. This was no big deal.
"They picked the hotel, I just wanted a place to stay. Any place in Baltimore. If I was going to sell Reggie out, it wouldn't be over some hotel room. My motive was safety.

So to get this straight, Ron Suskind of the Wall Street Journal posts a highly controversial article in March of 1995 claiming Reggie Lewis actually in all likelihood died from excessive cocaine usage and not his heart being damaged by a common-cold virus.  Derrick Lewis, his former college teammate, mentions to the Boston Globe that he used cocaine with Reggie Lewis and Len Bias the same night and then it's the Wall Street Journal putting him up in a posh hotel for a few nights for his safety?  My questions would be as follows:
  1. Why did the Wall Street Journal feel obligated to put Derrick Lewis in the hotel if his comments appeared in the Boston Globe?  Derrick Lewis' name isn't mentioned in Suskind's article.
  2. Why was he there 3 nights?  Did they think after 3 nights people would forget about it and the threats Derrick Lewis was receiving about admitting to what happened would go away?
  3. Why did Derrick Lewis change his story to say Reggie didn't participate after claiming he used coke with both Len and Reggie? 
Derrick Lewis today
The entire thing is really bizarre to me.  CelticsLife tried contacting Derrick Lewis now that it's been 21 years later, thinking he might be willing to talk.  I wasn't so much as interested in knowing whether or not they all did cocaine that night; you often feel invincible when you're younger and do stupid things you later regret.  What I really wanted to find out was how Len and Reggie interacted that night and if there's any memorable stories Derrick could share.

I realize this particular article is probably even more concerned with Reggie Lewis than Len Bias but the two are forever intertwined: both being born in Maryland about 45 minutes apart; working as counselors at Red Auerbach's camp; being the Celtics' first round draft picks in consecutive years; both dying young, one from clear-cut cocaine usage and the other who has been accused of it; and now this night where they apparently hung out.

Derrick Lewis has laid very low these days and was unresponsive to our email from asking him to expound on that night he spent with two future Celtics.  You're welcome to try your luck in reaching out to him yourself.

I think I speak on behalf of all Celtics' fans who would really just like to know his relationship with Len and Reggie and what they were like to hang out with.

***Addendum 9/16*** We had the chance to speak with Derrick and we will be updating this article very soon.

21 Seasons Before: 1965-66, Celtics win NBA championship
21 Seasons After: 2006-07, Celtics fail to qualify for playoffs

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