WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Some Connecticut high school students got a first hand account of heroin addiction from former NBA player Chris Herren Thursday.
Herren, who played for the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics during his NBA career, visited Windham Technical High School to discuss his personal battle with heroin addiction. In the past five years, Herren says he has shared his story with over one million students around the world.
“Just like some of you, I didn’t want to come to this assembly,” Herren addressed the students. “Just like some of you, I thought it would never happen to me.”
Herren was a high school basketball star, turned college player, turned NBA professional. He’s a man that never saw the problem until it was already out of control.
“Me, I’ve scored 2,000 points,” Herren said. “I’m a McDonalds All-American. I’m being recruited by every school in this country. All I do is drink and smoke on weekends. That’s where my partying will begin, and that’s where it will end.”
But it didn’t end there. Due to his drug use, Herron was expelled from Boston College. He admitted to using pain pills while playing NBA games. He also started using crystal meth and heroin after his career ended. Herren overdosed four times before he turned 32-years-old.
“It’s probably the worst possible life you could live,” said Herren. “Waking up every single morning taking a chance at killing yourself.”
Drug free since 2008, Herren is now battling heroin in a different way. He’s hoping to stop it before it starts. His method is to show kids what addiction looks like, through pictures and stories of others like himself.
“‘We wanna show them the worst day. I think we want to emphasize how bad it gets; and we forget about where it begins.”
On Thursday, his message hit home.
“There’s obviously a few kids in there that you know had some drug issues,” Widham Tech Senior Joe Wilson said. “And that touched them. I could hear the sniffling from all sides from people, by their family members, or by themselves.”
Senior Shanel Greer echoed Wilson’s impresions.
“I just feel like everything he was saying is so true. It really moved me, and everyone in this room.”