Chris Herren returns to Schreiber to share his story: Motivational speaker and former NBA player speaks to students


Courtesy of the Port Washington School District

Chris Herren spoke to the student body about his experiences with drug abuse as a professional NBA player, and how it caused issues in both his professional and personal life. He also answered questions and gave advice about how to maintain a drug-free lifestyle.

Grace Fogarty, Contributing Writer

Chris Herren, NBA player turned motivational speaker, came to share his story with the student body in the Schreiber gym on Jan. 11.  Eighth grade students from Weber attended the assembly as well.

Herren started his basketball career in high school before going on to play for Boston College and Fresno State University.  Additionally, Herren played for the Denver Nuggets, a prominent NBA team, before being traded back to his hometown to play for the Boston Celtics.  Eventually, he also went on to play in numerous leagues overseas.

After his successful basketball career, he became a motivational speaker.   Prior to becoming sober in August of 2008, Herren abused 7 different drugs, among them opiates, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, and heroin.  Herren’s struggles with substance abuse led to his passion for spreading awareness, educating students about the dangers of substance abuse, and promoting a sober lifestyle.

“He really connected with us and commanded respect and attention and he got it.  He honestly made you think about your decisions in a way you wouldn’t have before.” said junior Jade Walker.

After his stint playing basketball abroad, Herren returned to the United States hooked on crystal meth.  His substance abuse left him with a burnt out basketball career, a few felonies, and almost dead.   Only after four overdoses was Herren able to return to rehab and get sober.  He has been clean for over six years.

“People told me it must have been the worst day of my life.  I look at it as the best day.  That was the day that started me on the journey to where I am today,” said Herren.

Following a thirty-minute video that chronicled Herren’s story, Herren came out to talk to the student body and answer questions.

This is not the first time that Herren has spoken at Schreiber High School.  Some students remember him from his presentation two years ago, in September of 2014.  Since getting clean, Herren has transformed his life, dedicating his career to spreading awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and sharing his stories with the hope that people can learn from them and avoid making the same mistakes.

After entering multiple rehab programs and becoming sober, Herren started Hoops and Dreams, a company that provides mentors for young basketball players.

In 2011, he released a book, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir, to share his story.  Herren also started The Herren Project and Project Purple, both of which raise awareness of how dangerous drugs are and empower people to make a difference.

“I thought it was a really interesting story and he was able to connect with all the students because his life before was just like ours,” said junior Stevie Weingard.

Since its founding four years ago, Project Purple has attracted the support of nearly 500,000 people across the country.  Among their supporters are students, athletes, and politicians, all of whom are trying to create a future in which people do not feel pressured into taking harmful substances.