The life of an NBA star is not lived by many. Just like any other lifestyle, it can all vanish in the blink of an eye. That’s what Chris Herren experienced, and he shared his story with students at Great Falls High School and CMR High School on Tuesday.
Herren was a 1999 NBA draft pick of the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Boston Celtics the next year. Being so close to his hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, he says he used every opportunity to get opiates and painkillers as he was struggling with addiction.
He was introduced to drugs in high school and had numerous failed drug tests in his college days. He said he thought he’d never be ‘that guy’ when people came to school to talk about addiction, but he admits he was wrong.
“I woke up every day taking a chance at dying. It becomes the norm to take a chance at dying, to chase death, to feel that feeling. And that was an everyday thing for me for many years,” Herren said.
He said he even waited outside in the rain less than 20 minutes before tipoff of a Celtics game he was starting in. He would bounce around overseas before being charged with possession of heroin in 2007. He’d overdose the next year and officials said he was dead for almost 30 seconds. After rehab, he started working with players on and off the court and got into motivational speaking. He travels the country through Herren Talks and made a stop in Great Falls Tuesday, talking about his story.
“Just to have the responsibility to be in front of kids is something that I do not take lightly. Anytime a community gives you that honor and that responsibility. I never planned on being a public speaker so the way this has happened over the last ten years has been special,” Herren said.
He speaks at schools most of the year and has spoken to over a million kids since he started. His story sticks with many but he wants kids listening to be able to tell their stories as well.
“The second chance was something I needed, and I believe everybody deserves. In a world of addiction, I believe there’s so many people out there that don’t think they’re worthy of redemption. The second chance theme has stuck with me my whole life and that’s why I think coming to this community and doing these presentations is so important because they need this type of messaging. And so many communities don’t have it.”
Chris will also talk at Paris Gibson Education Center and Great Falls Central Catholic High School on Wednesday, February 16. Click here to visit Herren's website.