Former NBA Player Lectures On Drug Use At Lakeland

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Former NBA player Chris Herren speaks to attendees after giving a speech on his battles with drug addiction. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- For 30 seconds, Chris Herren was dead from a heroin overdose.

Herren, a former NBA player, talked about his past as a "basketball junkie" at Lakeland High School on Wednesday. 

A standout in high school in Falls River, Mass., Herren played at Boston College where he was kicked out for drug use. He transferred to Fresno St., and in 1999 was drafted by the Denver Nuggets before being traded to his hometown Boston Celtics.

As he lived his dream, Herren was battling a terrible drug addiction. Herren abused painkillers, including heroin, overdosing four times.

Becoming sober in 2008, Herren now lectures around the world about the dangers of drug use, and in 2011 was the feature subject of an ESPN documentary about his past. 

At Boston College, Herren tried cocaine for the first time after walking in on his roommate and girlfriend doing it.

"I had no idea that four months later, I would be kicked out of Boston College for failing three drug tests," Herren said.

Herren entered his first treatment center at 21 but started trying Oxycontin the night he became a Celtic.

"I gave my friend $20 for a 40 milligram pill," Herren said. "That $20 turned into $25,000 a month. I was taking 1600 milligrams a day."

At events, Herren said students come up to him and share their own problems, looking to him for inspiration. Herren said he receives an e-mail once a month from a girl who used to cut herself. Kids have gone up to him crying, giving him their pills to destroy.

"I pray someone here is willing to take a chance and change," Herren said. "There is a need to for a sober culture in high school."

Herren said addictions usually begin in high school when kids are drinking and smoking marijuana in the basement or woods.

"I would pay back every dollar I made in the NBA to be sober at 14," Herren said. "I remember drinking in the basement and parents told us to leave our keys upstairs. I looked up to the sober kids, they have something I'm missing. We all start out with red cups and weed."

Herren's visit was co-sponsored by the Alliance For Safe Kids and Compass Westchester. 

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