Ronald Daley was driving in Prince George’s County in the summer of 1986 when he heard on the radio that one of his favorite athletes, Terrapins men’s basketball star Len Bias, had died of a cocaine overdose at 22, less than 48 hours after being drafted second overall by the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
As soon as Daley shook the initial shock from the news, one thought rushed to his mind.
“I’m going to write a song about this,” Daley said to himself.
30 years later, Daley, now retired and living in Bladensburg, still has a CD of his song, “Lenny Bias — Maryland’s Super Star.” He’s hoping Bias’ induction into this university’s athletic hall of fame in October of 2014 would spark interest from movie or record producers who might want to use his song in a profile of the former All-American.
Mostly, though, Daley said he wants people to hear his song so they can reminisce about Bias’ dazzling play on the court or provide a younger audience a glimpse into the impact the Terps star had.
“I just felt like he was part of my family, and that’s what made me do this,” said Daley, who often took his two teenage sons to watch Bias play under former coach Lefty Driesell at Cole Field House.
Bias was the ACC Player of the Year in 1985 and 1986, and he ranks third in school history with 2,149 career points.
When he first wrote the song, Daley rearranged the lyrics multiple times as he tried to capture Bias’ dominance on the court with his words. His favorite line is in the second melody: “So many baskets he had sunk; but nothing was sweeter than his monster dunk.”
“I always liked his monster dunk,” Daley said. “That’s what my song was about — Len Bias’ favorite move.”
Daley, now in his seventies, said the song took him two days to write, and he found a local band that recorded the song. Daley’s aunt, Francis Howard, provided the vocals, and by the time the 1986-87 basketball season started, Daley’s song was finished.
Daley later played his song for the Bias family and gave them the record containing the track. Daley also played the song at events around the city and received positive reception, but he hasn’t sold CDs or put the song online because he didn’t want the song to be used without his consent.
His hope is that a company will purchase the rights to use the track so he can donate profits to the Len and Jay Bias Foundation.
“I want to make sure I get the ball rolling with that,” Daley said. “I’m trying to do something positive for the family.”