Len Bias, 22, was rushed by ambulance to Leland Memorial Hospital, soon to be dead of cocaine ingestion. Four and a half years later, his brother Jay Bias, 20, was taken in a red, four-wheel drive vehicle to Leland Memorial Hospital, soon to be dead of gunshot wounds. Some of the same people who tried to revive Len Bias on June 19, 1986, fought unsuccessfully yesterday to save Jay Bias. One day this week, Jay Bias will be eulogized, probably at Pilgrim AME Church in Northeast, the church where he nearly collapsed at Len's funeral. Relatives, friends, former teammates and coaches will say Jay was a nice kid, a talented kid who loved his family and didn't like violence, the same as they said about Len.

Can there be a more tragic rerun? Cocaine, bullets, what's the difference? Another gurney carrying another Bias was wheeled out of Leland Memorial yesterday. You want James and Lonise Bias and their two remaining children to pack up everything they own, sell the house in Landover and move to Montana.

We don't know all the details yet. We know that Jay Bias was sitting in the passenger seat and had two bullets pumped into his back. We don't know yet if the gunman knew Jay, if he had it in for Jay, if he was some jealous lunatic who was ready to cap the next man who talked to his girlfriend and Jay Bias was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But some of us feared Jay Bias wouldn't live much longer than Len Bias. If you traveled through black Washington the last five years and had your eyes and ears open at all, you knew Jay was hanging out with some of the same people his brother hung with, confessed drug dealer Brian Tribble among others.

It was a shocking revelation. Then you'd realize that this was the world in which Len and Jay Bias lived. A world where people they played with in the sandbox grew up to wear beepers and pay for fur coats in cash and drive German sports cars by the time they turned 20. This is the world where many young black men live. And die. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is as easy as going to the mall.

It's difficult for most of us to imagine the pull of this insidious but magnetic life. We hoped that Jay Bias, who had so much support from family and friends, so many well-wishers, so many people ready to come to his rescue, would first persevere, then flourish. Who cared whether he was good at basketball, whether he played at all? To graduate from high school, get a job, make his parents proud, and stay out of harm's way would have been enough. He deserved that much. His mother once said Jay suffered Len's death harder than anyone, even her. "Having to go back to the school where his brother attended," Lonise Bias said. "And go back to school with his peers. And then have to play ball on the court his brother played on."

Maybe Jay Bias, like virtually all of us who grew up in black, urban America, presumed an invincibility in youth. Every day he walked out of his house and hung out with one of his friends, he was walking on the edge of calamity. And the edge is so sharp now. Those who questioned why John Thompson would seek out a drug kingpin and tell him to stay away from his players should be ashamed. It used to be a hangover, now it's a lethal ingestion of cocaine. It used to be a bloody lip from a fistfight, now it's a bullet hole in the back. Perhaps Jay Bias was aware of that, perhaps not. Probably, he lacked an understanding of just how fragile his mortality was. Just like his brother. Just like pro footballers Don Rogers and Reggie Rogers. In fact, Jay Bias seemed to seek refuge in the very world where his brother died.

All of us looking for answers call men of unusual insight in a time like this, men who visit these kids and their families and offer them chances to break free from the often violent, fearful worlds in which they are entangled. "People have called me, they'll call John Thompson, they'll call {Temple basketball coach} John Chaney," said Ed Tapscott, the former American University basketball coach who recruited Jay Bias. "But this goes beyond something that we who aren't attracted to this kind of life would understand or even be able to describe."

One day in April 1987, less than a year after Len Bias died, his mother addressed an assembly at McKinley High School. She talked about how Jay had overcome his brother's shadow, gone right into Cole Field House where his brother played and scored 49 points and grabbed 30 rebounds over two games, leading his school to a Maryland state title.

"It doesn't matter where you have been or where you're coming from," Lonise Bias told the audience, which included Jay. "It matters where you're going. It's not where you've been, but where you're going. . . . Know who you are. You have so much to contribute."

Lonise Bias has been crusading since her eldest son's death, to get kids to figure out which way is up, and how they should get there. We don't know whether her second son got the message, only that he isn't going anywhere anymore. The hearts of a mother and father pound harder than any of us know; another young black man with identifiable talent is senselessly dead. It's enough to take your breath away.