9.26.2016

The Reggie Lewis Drug Probe (part 1)

March 21, 1995

On a warm summer evening in 1985, Reggie Lewis and his childhood friend, Derrick Lewis, walked down a quiet Marshfield street, side by side with their idol, University of Maryland star Len Bias. Reggie Lewis, a sophomore at Northeastern, was awestruck. He had repeatedly said the best part about being a counselor at Red Auerbach's summer camp was he got to play ball with Bias.

But that wasn't all Reggie Lewis did with Bias, according to Derrick Lewis. On that night, Derrick Lewis said in an interview with the Globe, four players, including Bias, Reggie Lewis and himself, snorted cocaine in a McDonald's restaurant less than a mile away from the Celtics rookie camp.

"Someone - I ain't gonna say who - had a half gram of cocaine," said Lewis. "We went into the McDonald's. It was real late, so nobody was there. Len went into the bathroom, took a toot, then me, then Reggie, then the next guy. We'd make sure nobody was coming. Then we went and had a couple of beers at another place and got real toasted. Then we went home. After that, we never talked about it."

Derrick Lewis, who played high school and college basketball with Reggie Lewis and now lives in Baltimore, said he used cocaine with the late Celtic about "five or six times" from 1985 to 1993, including the night Lewis signed his first contract with the Celtics in 1987 and culminating in a session at a Maryland hotel less than a week before Reggie Lewis collapsed in a playoff game.

Derrick Lewis said he decided to speak out now in order to quash what he felt is an emerging perception that Reggie Lewis was a cocaine addict. He stressed that Reggie had been only a "social user" of cocaine.

According to Derrick Lewis, the times he used cocaine with Reggie Lewis were during nights of heavy drinking. One of those nights was shortly after Reggie Lewis signed a one-year contract with the Celtics.

"The night Reggie signed, we went out and partied and had a little hit of cocaine," said Lewis. "But that was after two cases of beer, a few bottles of Dom Perignon. We had been up all night, so I said to him, 'Here, take a little toot, to keep you going.' We were living the high life, you know?"

Lewis said he also used cocaine with Reggie Lewis outside the Scotch 'n Sirloin Restaurant in Boston, a favorite hangout of Celtic players before it closed in June 1991. Derrick Lewis said he and his friend were alone.

"Reggie was always careful who he did the stuff with," said Lewis. "When I used to mess with Reggie, I'd always remind him, 'You're in the spotlight. If someone saw you smoking a joint, they're going to say you're smoking weed every day.' "

Derrick Lewis said the death of Bias from cocaine intoxication had frightened Reggie Lewis and for a while curtailed his drug use.

"He got to the point where he was pretty much skeptical," said Lewis. "He was scared. Both of us were scared after that happened to Lenny. I remember him saying, 'Damn, that (expletive) can kill you.' It really shook him up."

Derrick Lewis said the last time he saw Reggie Lewis was at the Greenbelt Marriott hotel in Maryland, the night before the Celtics played their final game of the 1992-93 regular season and five days before Lewis stumbled and fell onto the Garden parquet in a playoff game against Charlotte.

"I met him at the hotel," Lewis said. "I didn't have nothing. We just sat down and drank. We were drinking heavily, and I think Reggie was doing stuff cocaine."

Derrick Lewis originally told the Globe he did not use any cocaine with Reggie Lewis during the visit to the Marriott, but he was quoted in yesterday's Wall Street Journal as saying he went up to Lewis' room, used cocaine, then went down to the hotel bar. Last night, when asked to clarify the events of his visit to the Celtics' team hotel, Lewis said he did use "a small amount of cocaine" with Reggie Lewis in his room. He explained that he had been uncomfortable recounting incidents of drug use during the years his friend was a Celtic, when first interviewed.

Two members of the Celtics organization last night confirmed that Reggie Lewis was at the Greenbelt Marriott that night.

The Globe interviewed Derrick Lewis for 2 1/2 hours on tape last Wednesday night in Baltimore. No story was published until today because Lewis did not agree to put the conversation on the record until yesterday's Wall Street Journal story appeared.

"Reggie dedicated himself to basketball," said Lewis. "He liked partying, too, but he cared more about basketball."

Reggie Lewis and Derrick Lewis grew up together in Baltimore. Both played basketball at Dunbar High School. It was Reggie, said Derrick, that convinced him to transfer to Northeastern from South Carolina.

"The first couple years he was with Boston, I'd see him all the time," said Lewis. "We'd work out together, hit the town together. But the last couple years, I wasn't around as much.

March 22, 1995

Robert J. Fonseca of New Bedford was quoted in the Boston Herald and the New Bedford Standard Times yesterday as saying he sold cocaine on two occasions to Lewis. Fonseca told the Herald the sales took place in June or July 1988. The Standard Times quoted him as saying he sold it to Lewis "several times" in 1989 and 1990.

March 23, 1995

The horrible story won't go away because the truth hasn't been served. Reggie Lewis' fans may never know the truth, and many insist they don't want to know, but it becomes increasingly clear that lies, half-truths and coverups were very much a part of the life and death of the late Celtic captain.

The latest bomb exploded Friday when Northeastern University president John A. Curry said he recently was informed by former athletic director Irwin Cohen that Lewis had tested positive for cocaine in March 1987. Dr. Job E. Fuchs, the 78-year-old former university physician, disputes this claim but says he threw out records of the tests.


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