He is a former NBA player who speaks to groups of students, mostly high school age and younger, not about basketball skills at a basketball camp, but about recreational drug use and the hazards of addiction.
In fact, he has told revealed his story, in person or on camera, at least a hundred times during this year alone.
His name is Chris Herren, and as mentioned above he was a former NBA basketball player whose career was short-lived due to an incredibly severe addiction to drugs [Heroin; Cocaine; Oxcontin].
Although he is paid quite well as a speaker, anywhere from $5,500 to $10,000 per speaking engagement plus expenses, Chris Herren tells his story of addiction because he finds it to be enlightening and therapeutic. And although it is not easy re-treading the darkest and most harrowing periods of his life, he finds it worth it to talk because he helps people.
Last year, thirty-six year old Herren returned to his pre-addiction fame so to speak, when his memoir, “Basketball Junkie” was published and an ESPN documentary about him, “Unguarded” was released. According to Herren, last year he was a paid speaker at two hundred to two hundred fifty functions; this year he averages about 20 to 25 speaking engagements per month.
Herren’s target demographic mostly includes youth, as the basis of his speaking is drug addiction prevention. Herron is from a working class suburb of Fall River, where he grew up in a two parent middle class home. His father, a Massachusetts state legislator, recognized Herren’s athletic talent very early and nurtured it.
Herren was a top college prospect by the time he was a guard for Durfee High School. McDonald’s recognized him as its All-American. He eventually chose to attend Boston University in 1994 over Syracuse after top recruits attempted to scout him. In fact, Herren was such an incredible athletic, Sports Illustrated once grouped Herren with Ray Allen and Allen Iverson.
And although Herren was that impressive of an basketball player, he began experimenting was drugs and alcohol as early as high school. Then, after injuring his wrist during his freshmen year at Boston he began abusing illicit drugs, cocaine in particular. He began abusing drugs so often that he began failing drug tests.
Herren then transferred to Fresno State University after completing his freshmen year at Boston. Although Herren did not play his first year at Fresno State University, he re-emerged the following year as a stand-out player. However, he eventually ended up in a drug treatment center after he failed another drug test due to abusing drugs.
Despite all the talent and skill Herren displayed as a competitive basketball player, NBA teams were reluctant to sign him. Yet, he was picked up by the Denver Nuggets during the second round of the 1999 draft.
During his first year of the NBA he found himself addicted to Oxycontin. Meanwhile, in 2000 he was traded to the Boston Celtics. Eventually, the Boston Celtics cut him from their roster . And although he continued to play basketball on teams around the world his drug addiction grew to such an extent that he became a heroin addict. His life suddenly went downhill, with multiple arrests, a car crash and stints in rehab.
In 2008, Herren entered treatment one last time as a result of assistance from recovering alcoholic and former NBA player, Chris Mullin. On August 1, 2012 Herren will celebrate 4 years of sobriety.
In the meantime, Herren created a basketball company and has been sharing his addiction journey ever since.
Original article www.courant.com
Photo courtesy of hulkhatetimetravel.com