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Former NBA player to talk about how drugs ended career and almost his life

June 15, 2012

Lisle, Illinois ~ Former Massachusetts high school basketball legend Chris Herren accomplished his dream of playing in the NBA first with the Denver Nuggets and later the Boston Celtics, but he nearly lost everything to a gripping drug addiction.

Herren will share his story and address the dangers of drug use and addiction in a talk aimed at teenagers, young adults and parents at 6:00 p.m. Monday, August 27 at the Dan and Ada Rice Center on the campus of Benedictine University. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:15 p.m.

Herren's rise to professional basketball stardom and the drug culture surrounding it was chronicled in a 2011 memoir, "Basketball Junkie" and the ESPN documentary "Unguarded." Both the book and documentary reveal how his drug addiction began as a student-athlete at Boston College and later at Fresno State, where he set school records in assists and steals and was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference team in 1996 and 1997.

His success and rise to professional status continued to overshadow a hidden drug problem that intensified first from alcohol to cocaine, to painkillers and eventually heroin. At one point, Herren was found near death with a heroin needle hanging from his arm while he was sitting in the driver's seat of his car.

Extensive drug rehabilitation helped Herren turn his life around. He has been sober since 2008 and continues to rebuild his life. He now mentors young players and speaks at high schools, colleges and other organizations about his experiences.

Herren's message is especially important for teens and young adults, who will learn how easily drugs and alcohol can ruin a promising future, or worse, put an end to it before it starts, said Marco Masini, associate vice president for Student Life at Benedictine University.

"We are pleased to be able to give the Benedictine community and young people from throughout the area the opportunity to hear Chris Herren's inspirational story," Masini said.

"High school and university students, parents and alumni will hear a story that will impact their lives and hopefully inspire them to make a change in themselves or positively influence others," Masini added.

Herren's story is also a timely one. In recent months, several deaths and reports about the rise in heroin use among teens and young adults in the Chicago suburbs have dominated headlines and led to several community forums at local high schools to address what police have described as an epidemic.

"The Herren visit should serve as an effective warning to young people about drug use and the risk of serious addiction," said Phil Hardy, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science. "To fulfill our responsibilities to be good citizens, it is imperative that we teach young adults about addiction and the devastating effects that drug and alcohol abuse can have on their lives."

This event is sponsored by the University's Offices of Student Life, Athletics as well as the Center for Civic Leadership.

For more information contact: Mark McHorney, director of athletics, at mmchorney@ben.edu or (630) 829-6150.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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