Ex-NBA drug addict warns parents: kids deserve more than a drug talk

herren-celtics-ballChris Herren was once a promising guard that eventually ended up playing in the NBA, however his path to success was derailed by none other but himself. After Herren took on drugs, his life was never the same. Luckily, he survived and now spends his time warning others.

41-year old Herren spoke to about 1,000 parents, educators at the Agnes Irwin School, as the attendees listened to a horrific story of self-destruction that nearly ended badly, MainLine Media news reported.

One line of cocaine offered to him by a girl visiting his college roommate his freshman year was all it took to send Herren on the path to drug addiction, loss of his scholarship, his NBA career and the near loss of his relationship with his wife and children.

Already with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, Herren became a “full blown junkie”.

One night, when he was 22 and on the Denver Nuggets team, a childhood acquaintance sold him an Oxycodone pill for $20.

“I put it in my mouth,” he said. “I had no idea that decision would change my life. I threw them in my mouth and ran,” he said. He had three minutes before the start of the game, but remembers little of it.

Herren’s NBA career lasted for only 70 games, with Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, but his drug addiction was growing. In total, Herren appeared in 70 NBA games, averaging 3.2 ppg, 2.4 apg in 14.4 minutes per game. After being released by the Celtics, Herren went on to play professionally for teams in Italy, Poland, Turkey, China, and Iran.

While playing in Italy, Herren exchanged the pills for heroin and became an intravenous drug user. Herren was also arrested on drug-related charges, crashed vehicles and nearly died of an overdose. After an accident where he hit a woman and spent a night in jail, he was released on bail.

“My first phone call was to the man I met in the parking lot because what he sold me was so good it almost killed me,” said Herren.

Herren recalled how he got a call from his wife, who asked to pick her and the children up from the airport. Herren, suffering from hallucinations and paranoia, ended up abandoning his car and stepping into traffic to attempt suicide. He was jailed again, and upon release he decided to sleep outside with homeless people, one of whom urged him to call his wife rather than use his last $2 to buy beer.

In 2008 Herren ended up in a hospital for an overdose of heroin. He survived and was soon put into a rehabilitation program, which was paid for by another former NBA star, Chris Mullin.

After the birth of his third child, Herren started to get back on track. His life has been the subject of a book and documentary. Herren has been telling his cautionary story to groups around the country.

Herren warned the parents to not allow their teenagers to drink in their basements.

“Out of 15 kids on my high school team that drank in that basement, seven became heroin addicts,” he said. “We had really nice basements to drink in. I truly believe with all my heart, we fail our kids…fail them socially and emotionally.”

He said there are now more drugs and drug users in affluent communities than in the inner cities.

“The kids deserve more than just a drug talk,” said Herren, who said he wished someone had intervened with him in high school. His own dad drank, turning red faced and arguing with his mother, he recalled.


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