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"One cruel moment cannot wipe out a life of excellence"

An inspiring story of survival, rebirth, and the constant search for a better self, LESSONS FROM LENNY stitches together three decades of intimate and emotional conversations between NBA Champion Tony Massenburg and Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame “Wizard” Walt Williams on the deep influence Len Bias has on their lives and the remarkable journey beyond his tragic death.

 

LESSONS FROM LENNY: The Journey Beyond a Shooting Star.

June 17, 1986:
Len Bias, the best college basketball player in the country, achieves his dream and is drafted by the NBA Champion Boston Celtics. Less than forty-eight hours later, he dies.

It’s the end of innocence at the University of Maryland, and it’s The Beginning.

The shocking death of a superstar is national news and unleashes a tidal wave of coverage, condemnation and legislation so punitive that some have called it a great stain on the American justice system.

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Legendary coach “Lefty” Driesell leaves, his replacement, Bob Wade is forced out under a cloud, and alumnus Gary Williams is hired to resurrect Maryland Basketball. The student-athletes who stay must deal with the crippling grief of losing an icon and a friend while struggling with public contempt, criminal investigations, NCAA sanctions—a seemingly endless nightmare for these young men who fight to keep playing, trying to return Maryland to greatness.

 

LESSONS FROM LENNY, an inspiring story of survival, rebirth and the constant search for a better self is told by two of these unbreakable young men – with contributions from Hall of Fame Coaches Gary Williams and Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Len Elmore, Johnny Rhodes, Keith Booth, Juan Dixon, Steve Blake and more.

 

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Lenny thumbLen Bias, a two-time ACC Player of the Year and All-American at the University of Maryland, and the number two overall draft pick of the 1986 World Champion Boston Celtics has been referred to as, “the twentieth-century’s most influential sports person.” Bias’ remarkable rise to fame gave a generation a dazzling star to adore; his heartbreaking death changed the nation – from the Prince George’s County, Maryland parks and recreation centers where he started to grow, to college admission standards, professional sports, corporate America, congress, all the way to the White House. The tragic loss of the hometown hero and all-time great is impossible to forget. In LESSONS FROM LENNY, NBA Champion Tony Massenburg, a freshman teammate of Bias, and University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame “Wizard” Walt Williams, who grew up wanting to “be like Len,” remind us to remember all we gained because Bias lived.

Tony profileTony Massenburg @tonymassenburg played one unforgettable season alongside his idol, Len Bias, the all-time great Maryland Terrapin and two-time ACC Player of the Year. Bias hit a game-winning jump shot in the 1983 NCAA Tournament and won Tony’s imagination and devotion. For the next two years, the blossoming Sussex County, Virginia teenager emulated Bias in hopes of earning the precious scholarship to join “The Man” at the University of Maryland and follow in the footsteps of the best player in college. The sweet dream-come-true lasted twelve months and without warning became a nightmare as Tony lived through the unimaginable death of his idol-turned-friend, one of the cruelest moments in American sports history. The heartbreak and the aftermath created a character-shaping path, and on the way to winning an NBA Championship, Tony served as a messenger of the indomitable will to triumph over tragedy. Tony, the only Terrapin to play for legendary coaches Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Bob Wade and Gary Williams, graduated from the University of Maryland, and after 13 record-setting NBA seasons, is a Maryland business owner and an Analyst for Monumental Sports Network and NBC Sports Washington.

walt williams profile photoWalt Williams @WaltTheWizard42 and a generation who grew up in the basketball-crazed region near the U.S. Capitol called the “DMV” consider Len Bias “The Man.” Bias being crowned the 1984 ACC Tournament MVP made every Marylander a champion; winning back-to-back Player of the Year awards highlighted by a monumental victory against #1 North Carolina turned Len Bias into a Terrapin legend and Prince George’s County royalty. Sixteen-years-old and a Maryland State High School Champion, Walt set out to “be like Len” and become the next PG County star to lead the University of Maryland to new heights. The dreadful death of the hometown hero crippled the community and crushed the spirit of the nation. It was the end of a dream, and The Beginning. Walt vowed to create success in College Park. He turned into “The Wizard,” became the cornerstone of Maryland Basketball’s historic reconstruction, and the magic reappeared in Cole Field House. After graduating from the University of Maryland into an NBA lottery pick and 11 sharp-shooting seasons in “The League,” Walt enjoys a career in finance, talks Terps for the Maryland Sports Radio Network, and is a Guest Analyst for NBC Sports Washington.

 

Reviews

“…{an} important, moving book about the legacy of Len Bias…a story college kids need to know.” - David A. Vise, Bestselling Author and Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

“… {it’s} bigger than basketball. Maryland needed student-athletes like Tony Massenburg and Walt Williams to survive devastating circumstances. They were leaders on my first team and no team of mine fought harder…nobody played with more purpose – that determination sets a tone as we worked our way into a championship program. It all started with that first team.” - Naismith Hall of Fame Coach Gary Williams

“…an impressive chronicle and commemoration of what Len Bias’ life means to many.” – Len Elmore, All-American, Attorney, College Basketball Analyst, ESPN, CBS, and Fox Sports