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Williams, Brian Carson July, 2002 Tahiti; Believed murdered
Topic Started: Apr 27 2008, 12:04 PM (2,665 Views)
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Bison Dele nee Brian Carson Williams

DOB: April 6, 1969
Missing since approximately July 7, 2002
Height: Variously reported as 6'9" and 6'11"
Weight: 235
Race: Black

Formerly known as Brian Williams (full given name Brian Carson Williams), was an American professional basketball player who finished his career as a center for the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

He is believed to have been murdered at sea by his older brother in 2002.


Bison Dele killed by brother

Last Updated: Friday, October 4, 2002 | 4:41 PM ET
CBC Sports

Former NBA player Bison Dele was killed by his brother, Miles Dabord, as the two got into an argument aboard Dele's boat, accoring to Dabord's former girlfriend.
Erica Weise told the Los Angeles Times that Dabord and Dele were fighting and Dele's girlfriend Serena Karlan was fatally injured when she tried to break up the altercation.

Bertrand Saldo, the boat's captain, was then killed by Dele because the captain wanted to report Karlan's death to authorities, said Weise.

Dele and Dabord continued to fight, and Dabord shot and killed Dele in self-defence, said Weise. She told the newspaper that Dabord said he weighted the three bodies and dumped them overboard.

None of the bodies have been recovered.

Dabord died on Sept. 27 from what was termed as a result of an insulin overdose combined with not taking his asthma medication, according to the Times as told to the paper by Dabord's mother, Patricia Phillips.

The disappearance of Dele turned into a murder investigation after Weise informed the FBI of the struggle aboard the boat. Dabord, who was also known as Kevin Eugene Williams, was reportedly seen docking the empty boat on July 15. He left Tahiti two days later and was wanted on two arrest warrants in connection with disguising himself as Dele, also known as Brian Williams.

Police in Phoenix detained Dabord on Sept. 5 after he said he was Brian Williams and signed receipts with that name while trying to buy $152,000 US in gold. He showed his younger brother's passport as identification before he was taken into custody by police. However, he was released without being arrested.

Dele, who spent the last three years of his life travelling around the world, played on the Chicago Bulls' championship team in 1996-97.

with files from Sports Network

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke
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Serena Karlan, age 30, missing along with Brian Williams aka Bison Dele and Bertrand Saldo (picture as yet unfound)

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Kevin Williams aka Miles Dabord, brother of Brian Williams believed to have murdered Williams, Karlan and Saldo in the South Pacific

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke
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Dele's Boat Found in Tahiti; F.B.I. Searches for Brother
Published: September 14, 2002

The catamaran belonging to the former N.B.A. player Bison Dele has been found in Tahiti, but Dele, his girlfriend and the boat's captain are still missing, the F.B.I. said yesterday.

Dele's 55-foot sailboat, the Hakuna Matata, has been docked in Tahiti since July 8, the last time any of the three has been heard from, said Andrew Black, a spokesman for the San Francisco bureau of the F.B.I.

He said the boat was found docked in the town of Taravao and had been repainted and renamed Arabella.

The F.B.I. sent a team of forensic experts to Tahiti to assist in the investigation, which is being run by the French police, Black said.

Dele, 33, a member of the Chicago Bulls' 1997 championship team, was formerly known as Brian Williams. He changed his name in 1998 to honor his American Indian ancestry.

The F.B.I. was searching for Dele's older brother, Miles Dabord, also known as Kevin Williams. Sixteen agents are searching for the 35-year-old Dabord, and an arrest warrant has been issued for him.

''We're anxious to find him,'' Black said. ''We believe he has information that's going to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of these three individuals.''

Federal agents raided a hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, on Thursday. Dabord was not there, although clothing and personal items belonging to him were found. Dabord had been sailing with Dele; Dele's girlfriend, 30-year-old Serena Karlan; and the boat's captain, Bertrand Saldo.

The police in Phoenix detained Dabord on Sept. 5 after he said he was Brian Williams and signed receipts with that name while trying to buy $152,000 in gold. The police did not have enough evidence to arrest him, a police spokesman, Tony Morales, has said. Dabord also had credit cards and a passport belonging to Brian Williams, the police said.

Dabord's mother, Patricia Phillips, said she spoke with him on Wednesday and feared for his safety.

''It has been an incredibly draining experience for her,'' said Dele's agent, Dwight Manley.

Dele retired from the N.B.A. in 1999, forfeiting the final three years and $30 million of his contract with the Detroit Pistons.

The 6-foot-11 Dele played for Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers in addition to Detroit and Chicago, where he teamed with Michael Jordan. He averaged 11 points and 6.2 rebounds in his career. The Orlando Magic selected Dele with the 10th overall pick in the 1991 draft out of the University of Arizona.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke
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The Discovery Channel’s investigative piece this week concerning the 2002 disappearance of former Arizona basketball player Bison Dele adds more background to the dysfunctional relationship he had with his older brother Miles Dabord.

The hour-long show also offers insight about Dele’s love interest, Serena Karlan, who perhaps at the time of the tragedy became lost behind the news of a former NBA player missing at sea since July 2002. The Discovery Channel’s production of “Dark Waters”, as part of its “Disappeared” series, is refreshing because it featured as much information about Karlan’s life as it did about Dele’s existence.

Not much was reported on the life of the catamaran’s skipper, Betrand Saldo, who is presumed to have been murdered by Dabord on the boat along with Dele and Karlan. Viewers learned more of the budding relationship between Dele and Karlan, and about Dabord’s supposed jealousy of his brother and how that could have forced him into such an act. Dabord later committed suicide by taking an overdose of insulin.

The show’s producer Chris Gidez knows this story transcends basketball and his team reported it that way. Informative interviews were conducted with Dele’s manager Kevin Porter, friend Patrick Byrne, and Karlan’s best friend and mother.

People who did not know of Dele’s basketball background in the NBA or Arizona (where he was known as Brian Williams) would still be interested to watch how this story unfolds.

Look for a motion picture to be produced, Porter indicated to me Wednesday.

“My business partners and I are fielding offers from prominent movie industry investors to produce a motion picture,” said Porter, a 1988 UA grad who presently is managing director of Hollywood Lip Factory, a beauty products company based in La Jolla, Calif., and Atlanta.

Porter, who also represented former UA basketball player Khalid Reeves when Reeves signed with the Pistons in 1999, is candid in the Discovery Channel interview about his disappointment with Dabord (also known as Kevin Williams).

A Sept. 5, 2002, sting that included 19 Phoenix police officers led to Dabord’s arrest after he assumed his brother’s identity to pick up $152,000 worth of gold from a gold-coin dealer. Dabord claimed to the police that Dele and Karlan were kidnapped at sea and he was sent to retrieve the coins as ransom. He claimed that Porter knew of this, but Porter said he had no clue.
Bison Dele, known as Brian Williams during his UA career, was presumed to be dead July 7, 2002, at only 33 years old

Bison Dele, known as Brian Williams during his UA career, was presumed to be dead July 7, 2002, at only 33 years old (Dele family photo)

The district attorney’s office determined that Dabord’s story was believable enough to not press charges against him at that time. They released him, much to the disgust of Porter, who followed Dabord from the police station to the airport. Porter said in the Discovery Channel interview that he approached Dabord and tried to choke him because Dabord was not forthcoming about information related to the disappearance of Dele and Karlan.

“I knew (Dabord) and Bison’s entire family while he attended the University of Arizona,” Porter told me. “I knew Miles and Bison had an off and on relationship as brothers. This was prevalent with Bison’s entire family — on a while, and then off a while longer, but always finite.

“I never in my wildest dreams would think Miles would be capable of murder. Killing four people, including himself … never. It still jolts me to this day.”

Dabord flew to Palo Alto, Calif., and convinced his girlfriend to drive him to Tijuana. During that trip, Dabord told his girlfriend that he and Dele got into a fight, which led to the tragic killings. He said that Dele accidentally punched Karlan (mistaking her for Saldo) when she tried to separate the two. Dabord said Dele’s blow killed her when she fell and her head hit a sharp object on the boat. Saldo wanted to report the death, but Dele prevented that by killing him with a wrench, according to Dabord.

In an attempt to save his life, Dabord claims he rushed inside the boat to grab a gun and he shot his brother to death. He told his girlfriend that he then tied weights to their feet and threw all three overboard.

Dabord’s girlfriend informed the FBI about his story, which was different from what he told Phoenix police. Dele’s friend, Byrne, became involved, working along with the FBI to do another sting operation in Mexico. Byrne phoned Dabord and offered to give him the ransom money in Mexico for the alleged kidnappings. All the while, the mother of Dele and Dabord knew of the proposed FBI sting. She broke down and alerted Dabord, telling people that nobody knows for sure whether her son was telling the truth or not.

After receiving the tip from his mom, Dabord left a message on her phone sobbing and saying, “I didn’t do this, mom.” A few days later, he took the overdose of insulin and slipped into a coma. He died shortly thereafter. What actually happened to Dele, Karlan and Saldo remains a mystery. Hollywood will likely try to offer its theory.

“Although ultimately the story about Bison is tragic, the need to make a movie about him and how he lived his life would be interesting for those who either didn’t really know him outside of playing the game of basketball, or simply did not fully understand why this tragedy happened,” Porter said.

One of the more interesting comments in the Discovery Channel’s documentary is Byrne saying that he was surprised that the eccentric Dele played basketball as long as he did. After he was selected as the No. 10 overall in the 1991 draft, he played eight seasons in the NBA.

After his first season in 1992, Dele passed out while driving to a workout in Orlando. He collided with a concrete support column but was not injured. He underwent neurological and cardiac tests for three days and was determined to be healthy.

Dele retired before the start of the 1999-2000 season at age 30, when he still had a few years left in him. He was the Pistons’ highest-paid player, but had strained relationships with the organization and decided to walk away from the remaining five years and $36.45 million on his contract rather than be traded.

This is a line in ESPN magazine, written by Tim Keown in 2002, three months after Dele was not heard from again:

“Since his retirement, Dele … spent several months in Beirut, where he owned a piece of a friend’s water-purification plant. He went to Europe with just a backpack. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He traveled extensively, and alone, in Indonesia and India. He dated Madonna. He once said the Earth was his home, and he its king. He was an adventurer, a huge man with startling green eyes, no fixed home and few obligations.”

Porter told me that Dele was “almost too smart.”

“Bison was just more than an athlete,” he said. “He was extremely intelligent and wise beyond his years. He knew that there were other ways to learn then just inside a classroom. He had an innate ability to understand anything and anyone that came his way.

“For those who knew B, he gave. He gave on every level and every level imaginable. He wanted to live and to be free. There is so many things about him that I can go on and on about but I want people to know that he was my brother and my friend. I love him deeply and I miss him even deeper.”

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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Just missing or triple murder? Dele case is a test of faith
September 18, 2002|By Stacy Finz, Regan McMahon and Matthew B. Stannard, Chronicle Staff Writers

Serena Karlan was brought into this world in an apartment near New York's Central Park while 60 of her parents' friends and relatives chanted about divine love.

Now, 30 years later, some of the same people are gathered in a home in Colorado to strengthen their fading hopes that Karlan, who grew up in Berkeley,

hasn't been killed with her boyfriend, former NBA player Bison Dele.

But the picture became bleaker Tuesday in Tahiti, where police said they are stepping up the investigation into the disappearance of the couple and their boat's skipper from a missing persons case to a triple murder.

"For the purposes of the investigation, one can presume, based on clues, the testimony of witnesses, and the existence of a suspect and his behavior since the disappearance of the victims, that it could be a case of murder. Three murders, actually," said Michael Marrott, Tahiti's public prosecutor.

The FBI is looking for Dele's brother, Kevin Williams, 35, also known as Miles Dabord, in connection with the trio's disappearance. Williams lives in Palo Alto but was on Dele's 55-foot catamaran in the South Pacific in early July, just before the three went missing. Authorities recently tracked Williams to a Tijuana hotel room but lost his trail from there.

He initially raised suspicions two weeks ago when he tried to buy gold coins in Arizona while trying to pass himself off as his 33-year-old brother, Dele.

A team of investigators spent much of Tuesday searching the boat, which was found Friday at a Tahiti port. Although they found no evidence of a crime, Marrott said there are other indicators that point to foul play. He declined to comment further.


From the home in Denver where Karlan's friends and family wait for news, Karlan's father, Stuart, said, "Until there is something definite about my daughter, I have hope."

He flew to Colorado on Tuesday to meet with his ex-wife, Gael Ohlgren, Serena's grandparents and cousins. They needed to be together and to share memories of her, he said.

Karlan said he vividly remembers the day his daughter was born. He and his wife hadn't yet chosen a name. But as Ohlgren delivered their child in their large apartment, she felt such peace and serenity that they decided to call their daughter Serena. Because her head popped out at 11:59 p.m. and her body followed two minutes later, they gave her the middle name of Midnight.

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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PRO BASKETBALL; Brothers Linked In Mystery Recalled
Published: October 13, 2002

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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 12— Linked together by mysterious events in the South Pacific this summer, the former N.B.A. player Bison Dele and his brother, Miles Dabord, were linked together again today.

They were linked in memory.

A service was held for the brothers at the Trinity Baptist Church. There were soothing songs, prayers, dozens of photographs, and, perhaps most poignantly, loving words from the friends and family members who cherished them.

''These two men were as different as two sides of a coin,'' Lewis Merrick, a friend, said. ''Yet we must always remember they are two sides of the same coin. Searching for that unknown edge in life, they forgot to look home. The greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.''

The body of Dele, formerly known as Brian Williams, has not been found, though it is believed that he, his girlfriend, Serena Karlan, and the French boat captain, Bertrand Saldo, were killed aboard Dele's 55-foot catamaran, the Hakuna Matata, at sea as they were bound from Tahiti to Hawaii in early July.

Dele was 33.

Dabord, the only suspect, born as Kevin Williams, fell into a coma in September after an apparent suicide attempt. He died two weeks ago in Chula Vista, Calif. He was 35.

Paul White praised Dabord for his knowledge and sense of humor. White told how, after playing basketball in San Francisco, they used to talk about every subject.

''Miles was one of the most intelligent persons I have ever met,'' said White, who hugged the brothers' mother, Patricia Phillips, after he finished. ''He was interested in math, history, and he was an extremely funny man. He had keen insight into the human condition. Miles was a gentle man, sometimes too gentle. Miles and I shared freely. There were no barriers.''

Leondre Harris, a cousin, told about how he was with Dele when he received his first kiss -- and the first time he was stood up. Dele was 15, Harris 12.

''We were going to meet some girls,'' said Harris, who, along with Dele, rode the bus for much of the day for that special mission. ''We didn't find girls. Brian said, 'We'll try another day.' ''

He also spoke about his friend's love for running, which, it seems, was deeper than his love for his eventual profession.

Dele, who played for several teams in his eight-year career, was perhaps best known for his contribution to the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, who captured their second of three straight N.B.A. championships.

In 1998, Brian Williams said that he wanted to be known as Bison Dele in honor of his family's slave heritage and American Indian ancestry.

''Brian's favorite sport was cross-country,'' Harris said. ''He could outrun every center in the N.B.A. easily.''

The brothers, Harris added, were ''guys of many talents who loved each other very dearly, regardless of what anyone says.''

The service featured several selections from the Trinity Baptist Church choir and an especially moving rendition of ''Don't Cry for Me,'' by Jennifer Morris, a cousin.

Another friend, Patti Henleys, sang ''Amazing Grace.'' In the program, there were two short obituaries, which were later read by Evelyn Cain, another family friend.

Merrick's words may have been the most moving.

''I call out the names of Brian Carson Williams and Kevin Eugene Williams,'' Merrick said. ''Brothers in life and now, yes, brothers in death, sons to us all. A double sadness is born today because two children are dead.''

Photo: Patricia Phillips, left, the mother of Bison Dele and Miles Dabord, crying on the shoulder of her sister-in-law Jessie Williams. (Agence France-Presse)

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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PRO BASKETBALL; Dele and Dabord: The Twisting Trail Of Two Brothers
Published: September 22, 2002

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In two separate rows across the length of her dining room table, the mother laid out pictures of her sons. From birth to christening to adolescence and into adulthood, Brian and Kevin -- taking up a row each -- smiled back at Patricia Phillips through more than 30 years.

Brian Williams, the boy with the ice-blue eyes, grew to be 6-foot-11 and became a sometimes troubled, eccentric N.B.A. millionaire. He would travel to Europe for the summer with nothing more than a knapsack and the clothes on his back. He ran with the Chicago Bulls and with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. He once traumatized his Detroit teammates by trying to pull the emergency-exit hatch of a charter jet at 30,000 feet.

In 1998, he changed his name to Bison Dele, to honor his Cherokee ancestry and the first person from his mother's side of the family to be enslaved. Three summers ago, Dele walked away from $35 million and the game that made him famous so he could explore the world.

Kevin Williams grew big and tall, too, to 6-foot-8 and burly as a bear. He ran, swam and played water polo and basketball. But he was a severe asthmatic and never approached athletic success beyond the neighborhood. He changed his name to Miles Dabord. Drifting through jobs and towns in the West, often relying on his younger brother's charity for a new car or motorcycle, he was always ''Brian's brother.''

Today, Dele is missing and presumed dead, and Dabord is in a hospital near San Diego, lying in a coma from which he is not expected to awake. He is the prime suspect in the disappearance of his brother and two other people in Tahiti.

''Miles has always been in his shadow,'' Patricia Phillips said in a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon as wind chimes sounded outside her apartment in Santa Monica, Calif. ''He was always feeling he wasn't as valued or as loved. I'm sure that was in play over the last six months on that boat.

''But I can't lay innocence or blame anywhere, not until I know what happened. I can't make this Cain and Abel until I know for sure.''

On July 8, Dele vanished, as did Serena Karlan, a 30-year-old he was dating, and Bertrand Saldo, a French boat captain in charge of navigating Dele's 55-foot catamaran from Tahiti to Honolulu.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has not publicly identified Dabord as a suspect, but the police in the French Pacific territory of Tahiti think that somewhere in the middle of the South Pacific, Dabord killed all three.

Less than two months later, Dabord resurfaced at Certified Mint, a Phoenix coin shop, where, carrying his brother's credit cards and passport, he wrote a check for $152,000 to purchase American double eagle gold coins. The Phoenix police detained and booked Dabord but did not formally arrest him after he insisted to them that his brother had sent him to pick up the gold.

He was released that night and within days became the subject of an international manhunt, fleeing to Tijuana, Mexico, where he called his mother, from whom he had been estranged for several years. He was crying, she said, when he told her: ''I found something and I tried to cover it up, but I didn't do what they're saying. No one will believe me.'' He then threatened to kill himself.

On Friday morning, Phillips climbed into her car and drove to Chula Vista, Calif., just south of San Diego, where her elder son had been in a coma since at least last Sunday. Dabord had been brought across the border by an unidentified friend and listed as a John Doe at Scripps Hospital in Chula Vista until his fingerprints showed who he was. Today, sheriff's deputies stand sentry a few feet from his hospital bed. Like Dabord's mother, they hope the unconscious man will waken and tell them what happened on that boat off Tahiti.

The catamaran was found 40 miles up the coast from where Dele and his party were last spotted, its nameplate painted over. Dele had named it Hakuna Matata, after the phrase from the Disney film ''The Lion King'' meaning ''no worries.''

Indeed, its owner seemingly had none. Dele had purchased the catamaran in Australia and had been sailing for two years. He was an anomaly as a pro athlete, a man who, when drafted by the Orlando Magic, immediately moved into an unassuming residential neighborhood, far away from Isleworth, an exclusive resort where many teammates had bought homes.
''When I met him in New York after an MTV awards party, he looked like some kind of rocker,'' Dwight Manley, Dele's agent, said. ''He wore funky clothes, funky glasses -- very avant-garde, anti-authority and counterculture.''

Manley described Dele as ''much more cerebral than your average player.''

''He was easily distracted,'' Manley said, ''and wanted to do everything, whether it was flying or surfing or philosophizing.''

A Nomad Who Tested Limits

Dele's father, Eugene Williams, was a bass singer with the second generation of the Platters. Through the 1970's and early 1980's, Dele and his brother spent time traveling with the group and were exposed to places and people that few children born in the central California farming community of Fresno ever dream of.

After their parents divorced when the boys were young, they shuttled between their mother in California and their father in Las Vegas. Dele often looked like a newborn doe as a young high school player, all arms and legs and very gangly. But he grew into his frame, became one of the nation's top recruits and eventually was selected the Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year at the University of Maryland. He then transferred to Arizona, where he was a star for two years.

Leaving school a year early, he was drafted 10th in the first round by the Magic in 1991 and played for five teams during eight nomadic seasons. After rehabilitating from knee surgery, he joined Michael Jordan and the Bulls in 1997 late in their run toward a fifth championship. His coaches said he was more agile and quick than some of the greatest big men they had ever coached, but there was a caveat: Dele had so many other interests outside the game that basketball became a source of income rather than a long-term career choice.

''He was the type of guy who looked you in the eyes, but he looked right through you,'' John Gabriel, the Magic's general manager, said. ''It was hard to reach Brian.''

During his second year in the league, Dele was found to have clinical depression, and he admitted having made at least one half-hearted attempt to commit suicide: He drove an antique car into a telephone poll at a low speed. Afterward, he made it known that that the car did not have seat belts. His mother said he also took sleeping pills and nearly overdosed once during a depression.

He suffered from fainting spells and once lost consciousness during a summer-league game. Gabriel said, however, that Dele overcame his demons and forged a decent career for himself. His short stint with the Bulls led the Pistons in the summer of 1997 to sign him to a contract worth $45 million over seven years. Manley went to dinner with Dele and his father the night the deal was signed in Las Vegas, where Eugene Williams worked as a part-time limousine driver for the Mirage Hotel and Casino.

Phillips said her son supported her financially, enabling her to go back to school and earn a degree in anthropology from U.C.L.A.

Manley said Dele also supported his father and brother in various ways.

Dele was intrigued by limits, especially when it came to flying and fear.

Nearly six years ago, he obtained a pilot's license. He often terrified his passengers while behind the controls of small aircraft. ''He was always playing with the G-force,'' Phillips said. ''He would lift the nose of the plane to the point where the engine would stall. He could have died so many times. Ask anybody who flew with him.''

Jerome Williams, the Toronto Raptor forward who was once Dele's teammate on the Pistons, remembered a particularly unsettling episode in 1999. While the team charter was returning home, Dele tried to pull open the plane's emergency-exit hatch -- at an altitude of more than 30,000 feet.

''We were like, ''What are you doing? No! No!' '' Jerome Williams said. ''People got up and almost went after him before he stopped. He said he wanted to see something. The pilot came back later and told him it was impossible at that altitude. That was just B, always doing something crazy.''
Manley said: ''It's no secret that Brian had psychological problems. In order to deal with those problems he developed a superiority complex of being in charge of everything. The master of his domain.''

While many N.B.A. players spend their summers on Caribbean beaches or at their off-season homes, Dele visited Lebanon almost every summer, where a college friend from Arizona had persuaded him to become a minority partner in a water-treatment complex.

Williams said Dele would often go to Europe with only a backpack in tow. ''He wouldn't take any luggage,'' he said. ''He got on the plane with a backpack and some money and that's it. I don't even know if he had a specific destination.''

When Dele retired from the Pistons in the summer of 1999, he still had five years and $35 million remaining on his contract. Manley, his agent, tried to talk him out of it; Manley estimated that Dele retired with more than $5 million in savings.

''He wanted to explore the world,'' Manley said. ''To him, basketball was not what the world was about. It was a way for him to accumulate a war chest and go on to things he really wanted to do.''

Two weeks ago, Manley called Mitch Kupchak, the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, regarding the possibility of Dele's returning to the N.B.A. with the Lakers. Just a few days later, Manley learned of Dele's disappearance.

South Pacific Reunion

Wanderlust brought Dele to the white-capped waves of the South Pacific, and in time his brother and Serena Karlan joined him.

Karlan was the college roommate of Dele's high school girlfriend. They had known each other for eight years and were romantically involved for at least one year. She was obtaining her real-estate broker's license in Manhattan when Dele telephoned in December and asked her to come to Australia and sail with him. During the layover before they left for Hawaii, Dele and Karlan spent most of their time on Moorea, an island about 10 miles from Tahiti.

''She was supposed to go out for five weeks, but ended up staying seven weeks,'' her stepfather, Scott Ohlgren, said in a telephone interview from Boulder, Colo. ''She was pretty conservative, so we assumed things had to have been pretty serious for her stay that long.''

In interviews with a family friend who requested anonymity, Dabord is portrayed as quiet, a loner by most accounts who worked as a computer operator in Palo Alto, Calif., among other jobs. His asthma was serious enough that he took prednisone, a highly concentrated steroid that could trigger his temper, his mother said, if he was not weaned off it after 10 days.

''There was an ego struggle for him, the older brother always ground up with a bit of uncertainty about his place -- but nothing alarming,'' Phillips said. ''Miles wasn't a fighter or a malicious person. He would always try and talk his way out of things.''

Neither he nor Dele had seen their mother since Jan. 10, 1999, when their grandmother died.

''When I heard they were sailing together, I thought of these last six months as maybe a way that they had found a way to be close brothers,'' Phillips said. ''For six months, I've had this romantic notion about my boys, just imagining all they were doing and learning and seeing. Now I don't want to think or feel.''

After the Disappearances

In the Tahitian port of Taravao on Friday, the islands' chief prosecutor said investigators had found what appeared to be traces of blood aboard the Hakuna Matata. The evidence has been building against Dabord in the past two weeks.

Of the four who had been aboard the Hakuna Matata, Dabord was the only one seen after July 8. That morning he met the woman he was dating, Erica Weise, at Tahiti's airport, and the two of them spent a week together on the boat. According to The Los Angeles Times, Weise told the authorities in California that Dabord had told her there had been a struggle on the boat that led to the deaths of Dele, Karlan and Saldo. He deflected blame from himself, saying Dele had started the fight.

During the week Weise visited, Dabord somehow navigated the boat up the east coast of Tahiti and got in touch with someone about repairing it. The boat arrived in port on July 16, and, according to family members, Dabord left for Los Angeles on an Air New Zealand flight on July 20. In a matter of weeks, he posed as his brother while trying to buy the gold coins.

''We presume that the bodies of these people must be in the sea, the ocean, and will probably never be found,'' Michel Marote, the chief investigator, told reporters in Tahiti on Friday.

Perhaps the only man who knows what happened is lying in a coma today in a hospital south of San Diego.

On Friday night, Phillips sat about six inches from her son in the hospital bed. She could not get any closer or touch him, she said, because he was still under arrest. Doctors told her that Dabord was severely brain damaged from a suicide attempt in which his brain lost oxygen for at least eight hours. He is not expected to wake from his coma, and Phillips has resigned herself to becoming his legal conservator and making the decision in the next few weeks to have him removed from life support.

''My boys are gone and neither of them can ever tell me what happened,'' Phillips said. ''And even if someone pieces together the story or tells me what Miles told them, that's just for the law, the press and the public. It still doesn't explain what happened inside of the boys. That's all I want to know.''

Photos: The Family -- Kevin, left, and Brian Williams were born in Fresno to eclectic parents. Their father, Eugene Williams, would sing bass for the Platters, and their mother, Patricia Ann Phillips, would become a new-age California mother who practiced yoga and meditation. The boys had an itinerant childhood, spent between California and Las Vegas.; Bison Dele, above, and Miles Dabord, below, with their mother. (Family photographs courtesy of Patricia Phillips); The Man -- Brian Williams ran with the bulls of Pamplona and played with Michael Jordan's Bulls. Given a choice, he would have chosen traveling through Spain rather than playing pro basketball in Chicago. In 1998, he changed his name to Bison Dele. An iconoclastic thrill-seeker who took up flying and then deep-water sailing, he walked away from the N.B.A. and a guaranteed $35 million at age 30 in 1999 to explore the world. ''He was very multilayered and complex,'' his mother said. (Associated Press); The Mystery -- On May 2, the two brothers, Dele's girlfriend, Serena Karlan, above, and a 32-year-old French skipper named Bertrand Saldo set sail from Auckland, New Zealand, on Deles 55-foot catamaran Hakuna Matata. They were bound for Honolulu. During a layover in Tahiti, Dele, Karlan and Saldo vanished. The boat, left, found at the east coast port of Taravao, had been renamed. (Agence France-Presse, left; Associated Press)(pg. 1); Patricia Phillips, at her home in California, says she will never know what went on between her two sons in the South Pacific. (Ana Johansson for The New York Times)(pg. 6)

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

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