May 7, 2021
Former NBA player shares his story of addiction and recovery
Former NBA player and motivational speaker Chris Herren shared his personal journey from addiction to recovery with students at Upper St. Clair High School on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Due to health and safety guidelines, some students heard his message in-person in the high school’s theater, while all other students tuned in remotely from their homerooms.
An extraordinary basketball player, Chris Herren played at Boston College and Fresno State, two seasons in the NBA – including one with his hometown team, the Boston Celtics – and seven seasons overseas before losing it all to the disease of addiction. With the unwavering support of his family and friends, Chris has been sober since Aug. 1, 2008.
The 75-minute program titled, “The First Day” began with a film presentation highlighting his basketball career and journey to sobriety. Following the film, Chris shared experiences that have impacted his life as a teenager, athlete and speaker, empowering students to rethink how they look at the disease of addiction, from the last day to the first. He touched on topics that included drinking, smoking marijuana and vaping, pill use, peer pressure and bullying.
“Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and private donors, Mr. Herren provided students with a powerful first-hand account of the importance of well-being,” Dr. Timothy Wagner, Upper St. Clair High School principal, said. “Chris’ time at Upper St. Clair is a result of collaboration between community members and school district staff, who brought vision, action, and ultimately Chris Herren, to this vital conversation.”
Chris’ journey has been documented in the bestselling memoir, “Basketball Junkie,” the Emmy-nominated ESPN Films documentary, “Unguarded” and in countless local, national and international stories by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated, among others. Chris has spoken to more than one million students and community members, sparking honest discussions about substance use disorder and wellness.
“It is critical for students to hear that adults care about young people’s relationship with and connectivity to their school, community and each other,” Dr. Wagner said. “As such, embedding tangible ways of delivering a message that promotes overall well-being is important and worthwhile.”