Former NBA star Chris Herren appeared at the Skookum Creek Event Center Tuesday night. Herren, who was one of the few to grow up in New England and play for the Boston Celtics, had a well publicized drug and alcohol problem throughout his career and now travels the nation talking about his addiction.
During “A Message of Hope – A Conversation with Chris Herren”, he told his story that is also chronicled in his book Basketball Junkie. Herren talked about how being one of the top ranked high school basketball players in the nation led him from Fall River, Massachusetts and Durfee High School to a McDonalds All American and national exposure when all he wanted to be was a face in the crowd. How his first exposure to cocaine at Boston College got him kicked off the team. How he got a second chance at Fresno State but his drug and alcohol use escalated and led to a short stint in rehab.
Despite the publicity about his addiction, Herren still made it to the NBA but told the audience he was more interested in his next fix than living a childhood dream and squandered those opportunities. Herren then played overseas where he turned to heroin which ultimately ended his professional basketball career. He then became a street junkie and a convicted felony before an overdose and help from a high school friend of his mother and former NBA player Chris Mullin led him to another treatment center which got him clean and sober.
Now when he talks with audiences he says, “My worst days are my best days because they brought me here” with the goal to help kids make better decisions in their lives as they have it ten times harder today than he did.
“My dream is to be Chris Mullin. Not to be in the NBA. Not to be Michael Jordan,” he told the audience during the question and answer session.
Herren said his wife is the star of the story as she stood beside him throughout but her telling him he could not be a part of his children’s lives any more helped drive him to sobriety.
Near the end of the conversation, Herren suggested, “Be a pro at being you, before being at pro at life.”