len bias

the Baller’s Almanac: October 17

26-years ago today, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was passed. The law was passed in the wake of Maryland basketball star Len Bias's drug overdose, and introduced mandatory minimum sentences, weighted heavily toward crack cocaine. Eric E. Sterling, who was counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary and was involved in the passage of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, spoke to PBS’s Frontline: "In 1986, the Democrats in Congress saw a political opportunity to outflank Republicans by “getting tough on drugs” after basketball star Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose. In the 1984 election the Republicans had successfully accused Democrats of being soft on crime. The most important Democratic political leader, House Speaker “Tip” O’Neill, was from Boston, MA. The Boston Celtics had signed Bias. During the July 4 congressional recess, O’Neill’s constituents were so consumed with anger and dismay about Bias’ death, O’Neill realized how powerful an anti-drug campaign would be."

At the time the law was passed, approximately 600,000 Americans were in prison. That number has since grown to 2.3 million, which means that a higher percentage of Americans are behind bars than any other nation in the world.

It's Danny Ferry's birthday, born Hyattsville, Maryland in 1966. Ferry, the son of NBA player Bob Ferry, played for legendary high school coach Morgan Wooten in Maryland before enrolling at Duke University. Ferry led Duke to three Final Fours in four seasons, and was the consensus player of the year as a senior. His number 35 was retired when he graduated, and in 2002 he was named as one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the ACC.

After a long professional career, he is now the GM of the Atlanta Hawks.

Other birthdays include: Art Spector 1920 (Villanova), Steve Jones 1942 (Oregon), Jeffery Congdon 1943 (BYU), Mike Bratz 1955 (Stanford), Bill Mayfield 1957 (Iowa), Tom Piotrowski 1960 (La Salle), Jay Humphries 1962 (Colorado), Joe Courtney 1969 (Southern Miss), Ruben Garces 1973 (Providence)