The public came sadly to see Len Bias for the last time at an open-casket wake held at the Pilgrim AME Church yesterday evening.
Police estimated that more than 3,000 people -- family members, friends and basketball fans -- entered the church at 606 17th St. NE to mourn Bias. No members of the media were allowed inside the church.
One line of mourners stretched around the corner and down Rosedale Street, another turned the other corner and stretched along Kramer Street.
"It's depressing, very depressing," said point guard Mark Tillmon of Gonzaga High School, a first-team All-Met selection last season. "I still can't believe it. It's like a dream."
Dozens of neighborhood children gathered across the street from the church, outside the Rosedale Park playground, watching wide-eyed as the crowd grew.
The police tried to keep traffic moving, but cars slowed and even stopped as they passed the church.
Despite the press of people, the air was somber and eerily silent. Family members hugged and gave each other support. There were few words exchanged.
After viewing the body, many exited the church with looks of disbelief. Others simply broke down and cried.
"He was the greatest basketball player ever," said friend Eric Payne in tears. "It's a shame it had to end this way."
Bias, 22, was a University of Maryland all-America forward. He died of cardiac arrest Thursday morning at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale about two hours after collapsing in his dormitory suite.
A private funeral service will be held today at 10:30 a.m. at the University of Maryland Memorial Chapel. A public memorial service is set for 7 p.m. at Cole Field House.