30 Years in 30 Days: Day 13- A Best Friend Sadly Remembers

Guest post by Dave Ungrady

Brian Waller grew up with Len Bias in Columbia Park and the two were teammates on the Northwestern High School basketball team. Waller, a year older than Bias, had talked with Bias on Sunday and again on Monday, June 16th, 1986, the day before the draft. Bias hadn’t said he would stop by that night, but Waller and Walker still held out hope that he would surprise them. They were so excited about Bias being selected by the Celtics that they cut their game short and talked most of the night about his good fortune. “We were just hanging out talking and waiting for him to walk through the door,” says Waller. “Every time the door opened, we looked to see who was gonna walk through, thinking and hoping it was him.” Bias’s buoyant presence never materialized. Waller was left to wonder: Could he have saved his best friend’s life if only Bias had walked through those doors at The Rec that night? “I can remember, long after he passed away, I would come home from work, I would sit in the basement in the dark, for a couple of months,” he says. “No TV, no radio. If I was there, he’d still be here.” Waller says Bias never used cocaine around him.

Waller’s eyes widened and filled with tears when he talked about Bias. “It was probably more sadness, not really guilt,” he says, staring into space. “Man, if I was there, I could have done something. I don’t think he would have been comfortable …” Waller pauses and takes a deep breath, “doing any kind of drugs around me. I would have been, ‘What are you doing?’ I would have been totally against it. He probably wouldn’t have brought that foolishness around me.”

Excerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias
Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

13 Seasons Before: 1973-74, Celtics win NBA championship
13 Seasons After: 1998-99, Celtics fail to qualify for the playoffs

Index of 30 Years in 30 Days articles