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An NBA Star Who Disappeared: The Sad Story Of Bison Dele


Even in the world's largest basetball league, some stories are bigger than basketball.

The story of Brian Williams is the perfect example of this. And while his story is not very well known, it's one that will likely send chills down your spine.

Here's the story, as told by Reddit user RomotheGOAT:

Brian Williams played 2 seasons at the University of Arizona before being drafted in the first round of the 1991 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. After bouncing around the league, he was signed by the Bulls for the last 9 games of the 1996-97 season, becoming an important bench piece as they won their 5th NBA championship. Williams was then traded to Detroit, where he averaged career highs of 16.2 ppg and 8.9 rpg. It was during this period that he changed his name to Bison Dele in order to honor his Cherokee heritage.

Dele, who was known for his eccentric behavior, suddenly retired from the NBA in an odd fashion. He retired before the start of the 1999–2000 season at age 30, when he was still in the prime of his career. He had been the Pistons' highest-paid player, but decided to walk away from the remaining five years and US$36.45 million on his contract rather than be traded.

After retiring, Dele bought a boat that he named the Hukuna Matata, or "Good Times." On July 6, 2002, Dele, his brother Miles Dabord, his girlfriend, Serena Karlan, and the captain of the boat set sail from Tahiti.

On July 20, Dabord bought the boat into Tahiti. He was alone, no one else on the boat was ever seen again. Dabord was caught on September 5 in Arizona when police discovered that he had bought $152,000 worth of gold by using his brother's name and passport as his identification and forging his signature. 2 days earlier, the Hukuna Matata was found with its name plate removed and some possible bullet holes patched.

That same day, Dabord called his mother, telling her that he would never hurt Bison and that he could not survive life in prison. The FBI and French authorities eventually concluded that Dele, Karlan and the captain were probably killed and then thrown overboard, or forced to walk off the boat into the ocean, by Dabord. Given that the bodies were likely dumped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it would be highly unlikely that the three would ever be found.

Investigators were never able to properly question Dabord though, because he intentially overdosed on insulin, falling into a coma, and eventually dying in a California hospital on September 27, 2002.

Claims by Dabord pinned the blame on Dele, with Dabord saying that his brother had pushed Karlan (Dabord's wife), who died from the fall, and then later killed the boat's captain after he tried pulling the boat to dock.

Whatever happened out there, the bodies of the victims (including Dele) were never found, eliminating the chances of closure on the ordeal.

The true story may never be unveiled, and the fact that we might never know what happened to Dele and the others is quite an unfortunate reality. Hopefully, his family is beginning to move on now, almost 15 years later.

For the rest of us, this tale should serve as a reminder that nobody is immune from ill-favored circumstances... not even money-making NBA superstars. Just like us, they have bad days. For them, just like us, tomorrow is never promised.

(Click here for additional information on the story of Bison Dele).