Former NBA Star Chris Herren Recounts How Drug, Alcohol Addiction Changed His Life During Powerful Presentation
HORSHAM — Former Boston Celtics player Chris Herren hopes the message people take away from his compelling presentation is that substance abuse is a serious problem with real, life-altering consequences. That is also the warning that Be a Part of the Conversation — Hatboro-Horsham School District's drug and alcohol awareness program — wants to impart upon the community and students. Herren will tell about his struggles with heroin, painkillers and cocaine to the public during a free event, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at the high school, 899 Horsham Road in Horsham. Herren’s presentation will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. Q-and-A session.
Sponsored by the Hatboro-Horsham Educational Foundation (HHEF) and HHoops, Herren’s presentation will focus on how he first started using drugs and alcohol in high school and college, his path to substance abuse and how he eventually found the road to recovery. Herren used a variety of drugs while playing college and professional basketball. Herren was involved in a serious vehicle accident after he overdosed on heroin. That accident caused him to be declared dead for 30 seconds. Since his recovery, Herren has been alcohol- and drug-free since Aug. 1, 2008, and has refocused his life by placing his sobriety and family above all else. His recovery was attributed to intense rehabilitation programs.
Herren was drafted in the second round (fourth pick, 33rd overall) of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, then was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2000. As a Celtic Herren had a career-high 18 points against Dallas, only to suffer a season-ending injury.
“This is clearly an intelligent and highly capable man, who as a youngster had a loving family and wonderful opportunities for his future,” Be a Part of the Conversation Parent Liaison Kim Rubenstein said. “Despite all that, he traveled down a deadly path of substance abuse, simply by partying with friends in high school, then experimenting with various drugs in college and ultimately facing a devastating addiction to heroin.”
Hatboro-Horsham High School Principal Dennis Williams Jr. explained that last fall, he was riveted watching Herren’s ESPN documentary, "Unguarded," which describes the former basketball star’s struggles with addiction. Williams was impressed by the detailed documentary and Herren’s candidness, and told fellow educators that it was his goal, with the help of Be a Part of the Conversation and its sponsors, to bring Herren to the district.
“By sharing a very personal and dramatic story like Chris', the decisions we all make are made very real and we can see what possible outcomes there are to those choices,” Rubenstein said. “Also, it is vital that as a society we bring the disease of addiction into the light and not see it as a moral failing or make judgments about those who are impacted.”
Herren’s speech is the second of a series of events hosted by Be a Part of the Conversation during the 2012-13 school year. The next event is the group’s second annual Conversation Forum, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30, 2013 in the Horsham Township Community Center — located behind the township building — 1025 Horsham Road. The Conversation Forum features a panel of young adults and high school students who will discuss the challenges of substance use.
Later in the year, HHEF is the screening documentarian Lee Hirsch’s film "Bully" (rated PG13) on Feb. 21. A week later, Feb. 28, Hirsch will be return to the district to lead a discussion on the film. Both events will take place at Hatboro-Horsham High School at 7 p.m.