The Mysterious Life and Murder at Sea of NBA Champion Bison Dele aka Brian Williams
Brian Williams was a top 10 draft pick out of the University of Arizona in the 1991 NBA draft. He averaged 11 points per game over eight NBA seasons playing for five different teams, including the 1997 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls.
After changing his name to Bison Dele in 1998, he up and left the NBA at age 30 walking away from tens of millions of dollars. Three years later, he was murdered at sea at the hands of his own brother. Here’s a look at the disturbing story that made international headlines and shocked the sports world.
Bison Dele and his NBA career
The Orlando Magic thought so highly of Brian Williams, a center who played for Lute Olson and the Arizona Wildcats, they drafted him with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft. Despite limited action, Williams made the most of the situation and averaged 9.1 points his rookie season.
After a drop in playing time his second year in Orlando, Williams headed west to play for the Denver Nuggets. In the Mile High City, Williams averaged eight points per game over the two seasons. Like Orlando, after two years, he moved on, this time to the Los Angeles Clippers. His fifth NBA season turned out to be one of his best as he averaged 15.8 points and pulled in 7.6 rebounds per game.
Unfortunately for Williams, he got into a contract dispute with the Clippers and didn’t play most of the 1996-97 season.
An NBA title and becoming Bison Dele
Brian Williams had all but given up on playing the 1996-97 season when he got a call from the Chicago Bulls, a team that was vying for its second consecutive NBA title. Williams joined the Bulls for the final nine games of the regular season.
In the playoffs, Williams came off the bench and played a vital role averaging 6.1 points per game. He was there celebrating right alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen when the team won the NBA title defeating the Utah Jazz in six games.
Following his pattern of not staying at any one place too long, Williams again changed addresses in what would turn out to be the final stop of his NBA career when he signed a seven-year, $45 million free-agent contract with the Detroit Pistons. He had his best year statistically in 1998, when he averaged 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds.
That same year Williams also decided to change his name to Bison Dele to honor his Native American (Cherokee) and African ancestry. He played under that name his final season when he averaged just over 10 points per game.
Before the start of the 1999-00 season, Dele, who was 30 years old and the highest-paid Pistons player, shocked the organization when he announced he was walking from the remaining five years on his contract and $36.45 million.
Bison Dele enjoys the retired life
While many questioned his decision, Bison Dele wasn’t one of them. He didn’t miss basketball at all. He was too busy enjoying life. He became a world traveler and ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Like his former Chicago Bulls teammate Dennis Rodman, he dated Madonna. He traveled throughout much of Europe with nothing more than a backpack.
In 2000, he settled down in Tahiti where he bought a 55-foot catamaran and named it Hakuna Matata, the phrase from the popular animated film “The Lion King,” which means no worries. At that point, Dele didn’t have any worries as he sailed the South Pacific, one day planning to make a trip up to Hawaii.
That day came on July 6, 2002. Bison Dele, along with his brother, Kevin Williams, who had himself changed his name to Miles Dabord, as well as Dele’s girlfriend Serena Karlan, and Bertrand Saldo, the boat’s captain, set sail for Hawaii.
Dele murdered at sea by his own brother
What happened next, no one really knows for sure. Dabord would later describe to his girlfriend how he got into a fight with his brother. When Karlan, Dele’s girlfriend, tried to break up the two brothers, she got knocked down on the deck and suffered a fatal head injury. Once Saldo, the captain, realized what had happened, he ordered the boat to return to port and report the death to authorities.
According to Dabord, Bison Dele became agitated and beat Sabord to death with a wrench. At that point, Dabord said he feared for his life and shot his brother. He then proceeded to take bodybuilder weights on the boat, weighted down all three bodies, and threw them overboard into shark-infested waters. He then sailed back toward Tahiti.
On September 15, two months after setting sail on that tragic trip and with authorities closing in on him, Dabord reportedly overdosed on insulin and fell into a coma in Mexico. He died on September 28. And no one to this day knows what happened to the three other members of the trip. Their bodies were never found.