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Reviews & Comments for "Born Ready"



The Prince George’s County, MD  education dept. has approved the book and stocks it in its high school libraries. Len attended Northwestern HS, which is in Prince George’s County. 

"It was one of the best discussions we have had in our five years as a club.  Most of the time we only discuss the book for 15 minutes and move on to other topics. But the tale of Len Bias’ untimely death, and your story of how this book became a reality, kept us engaged for the whole night. I lost track of the closing time."

Rich Barrett, coordinator, Falls Grove (MD) Book Club, February 2015

"Len Bias, the No. 2 overall draft choice of the Boston Celtics in 1986, died of a cocaine overdose two days after he was anointed to help sustain the NBA dynasty. His death, followed by that of Celtics star Reggie Lewis from cardiac arrest in 1993, set the team back for more than two decades. Bias’ death, in particular, has always been surrounded by the question:


Why? A quarter-century later, Ungrady—who, like Bias, attended the University of Maryland—set out to learn the answer and to find the rippling ramifications of the star basketball player’s death. As the sportswriter explains, “more than any athlete who has died in the last half-century, Bias still evokes a searing and confusing mix of regret and remorse, anger and sympathy, bewilderment and bitterness, and lingering sadness over the success the young athlete might have known had he not celebrated too hard, too soon.” Ungrady argues that Bias’ death, at just 22, has had unparalleled effects not just on his family and friends, or on the son he never knew, but also on the careers of Maryland administrators, coaches, and athletes. There was an outcry for tougher drug laws, which led to harsh, mandatory sentencing for cocaine dealers and users; on the flip side, cocaine use has since dropped among high school students.

Ungrady faced one big obstacle when researching this book: Two and a half decades hasn’t been enough time for the wound to heal. “Many of the people most affected prefer to remain silent on the topic, or talk guardedly about it,” Ungrady says. Still, his dogged research, including his conducting new interviews and mining previously produced materials, has yielded a well-rounded portrait of Bias and those who are trying to make sense of his death. A cautionary sports tale that shows how one life unexpectedly ended can affect so many others."

Kirkus Reviews, December, 2014

“This book captures the true essence of Len Bias’ legacy. No University of Maryland athlete left as profound an impact on the school and society as Bias. He embraced life with an infectious personality and captured the interest of a sporting nation with his supreme athleticism. His death, he caused immeasurable pain but also prompted positive changes in the drug culture. It taught our youth an invaluable lesson: using drugs can kill you.”

Len Elmore, 1974 Maryland All-America, ESPN basketball broadcaster

“The death of Len Bias 25 years ago was a shock to the sports world, a sad story that is worth remembering and retelling today. Dave Ungrady has written a compelling, well-researched account of what happened and why it happened. This is an important book that makes sure we never forget this tragedy.”

Christine Brennan, USA Today sports columnist, ABC News commentator, author of “Best Seat in the House”

“It was an amazing piece of work. I was 10 when news of Len Bias’ death took over the local and national news channels. It greatly affected me as a young basketball player and as a person who to this day has never tried drugs partly because of Bias. Your book was gripping from start to finish and was satisfying in the ways it explained so many things that other publications failed to do in the past. What also hit home for me was your mentioning of Bearden High School in Knoxville, TN — the same city I used to live and work in as the sports editor for The Knoxville Journal. I never realized I was so close to the Bias legacy.   

Dave Ford, former sports editor, Knoxville, TN Journal

“Sad story, but I am also sad there isn’t more to read. I did not want it to end. You did a fabulous job. Thank you for one of the greatest sports books ever written.”

Dr. Rob Gilbert, sports psychology professor, Montclair State University, and a motivational speaker.

“Dave, that was a great read. I was 24 in 1986. I tried cocaine in college and the use escalated when I was out of college and earning a paycheck. I was living in a group house and we used quite frequently but after Len died, I was among the many who stopped after his death. I still continued to party before sobering up completely in early 1989. No drugs, booze since. He was the best I ever saw and thanks again for a great book.”

Born Ready reader Bill Bride in an email sent to the author. 

“I loved your book — well written; thoroughly researched and insightful; and chock full of life lessons. Literally couldn’t put it down.”
Brian Kriftcher, Global Chair, PeacePlayers International. 

Recommended summer reading by basketball blogger Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News 

“I had such a difficult time putting the book down. You’ve gotta read it, (it has) multi-levels in political, social, personal, and sports.”

Joe Madison, host of the Joe Madison Show on SiriusXM radio.

“During my years as an ACC coach, the two most dominant players we’ve faced were Michael Jordan and Len Bias. I always thought those two players were a cut above. They did things no one else could do.”

Mike Krzyzewski, men’s head basketball coach at Duke University since 1980 and a four-time NCAA champion.

The death of Len Bias was the most important date related to drug abuse in the United States since the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in June 1935. It focused the national attention on drug abuse like no other event has. It brought it home to everybody.

Dr. Robert DuPont, President of the Institute for Behavior and Health Incorporated; former president of the American Council of Drug Education.

“A lot of kids who had the opportunity to use drugs chose not to use drugs. He didn’t die in vain. It was an eye-opener. Because of his death, a lot of people in this country began to make drugs a target.”

Horace Balmer, former head of security for the NBA

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