Ex-NBA player Herren tells his story of to hell and back

chris-herren-celticsChris Herren readily admits that growing up, when sitting in the gym at his high school while someone was speaking about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, he didn’t listen.

In fact, he thought it was a joke. He could never be that guy. But he was exactly that guy.

For nearly 15 years, Herren fought a losing battle against alcohol and drugs. Incredibly. he did it while playing basketball, first at Durfee High School in Fall River, Mass., then at both Boston College and Fresno State and, finally, for the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics of the NBA.

Today, with four-plus years of sobriety under his belt, Herren is a motivational speaker, working to get his message – and make people listen – to the dangers of what drugs and alcohol can do.

On Tuesday evening in front of close to 800 at the Lyman Center, Herren spoke to the student-athletes from all 19 athletic teams at Southern Connecticut State University, ctpost reported.

“I started this journey speaking to high school kids,” said Herren, who has also spoken to major college and professional teams. “If I can make a difference in just one kid’s life, I’ll never stop telling my story.”

Herren’s story was made into an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary titled “Unguarded.” He speaks bluntly about his four overdoses, how he was slumped over the wheel of his wrecked car, literally dead for 30 seconds before paramedics brought him back to life.

He speaks about selling jewelry on the street, having seven felony arrests and wondering if he should end his life.

“I can remember sitting in those assemblies, thinking, `All I do is drink and smoke (pot). I’ll never do that other stuff,'” Herren said. “I had the nerve to think that I was so much better than that person talking to me about what he’d gone through. My addiction took away everything I had. It was a 14-year nightmare.”

Herren said that he started smoking pot and drinking as a freshman in high school, that he first tried cocaine as a freshman at Boston College and how he later got hooked on the painkiller OxyContin before finally using heroin.

“I paid $20 for that first (OxyContin) pill,” Herren said. “That turned into a $25,000 a year habit.”

Today, Herren runs a basketball clinic for boys and girls called “Hoop Dreams” and fights the never ending fight to stay clean and sober.

“I do this because I don’t want you to go through what I went through,” Herren told the crowd. “I’ve been through hell.”

Alcohol and drug-free since August 1, 2008, Herren struggled with substance abuse for much of his basketball career with the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics.

After playing 70 games from 1999-2001, Chris’ NBA career was over after a season ending knee injury.

During his NBA career, Herren played 45 games for Denver Nuggets (averaging 3.1 ppg, 2.5 apg) and 25 games for Boston Celtics (3.3 ppg, 2.2 apg).

In total, Herren appeared in 70 NBA games, averaging 3.2 ppg, 2.4 apg in 14.4 minutes per contest. After being released by the Celtics, Herren went on to play professionally for teams in Italy, Poland, Turkey, China, and Iran.

He has since refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all else, along with a mission to help others.


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