Almost 2,000 high school students from throughout central Illinois, including members of the Litchfield High School boys basketball team and Panthers Against Destructive Decisions group, were on hand at Champaign Central High School on Thursday, Dec. 13, to hear inspirational speaker Chris Herren speak on his battles with drug abuse.
Herren was in the area to speak at the stakeholder dinner for the Prairie Center, a non-profit substance abuse prevention and treatment provider in Champaign. The presentation at Champaign Central was also part of the Herren's non-profit foundation, The Herren Project, which was established to help people struggling with addictions and has a goal of reaching youth before drug abuse can affect their lives as well.
After the presentation, the students had the chance to meet Herren and the photo above was posted on the Litchfield basketball Twitter account. Herren, who has more than 48,000 followers on Twitter, later retweeted the message, adding "My squad!!" before the post.
About Chris Herren
Herren, a 6’2” guard from Fall River, MA, scored 2,073 career points while at Durfee High School. A Boston Globe and Gatorade player of the year, he received numerous awards and honors during his high school career including being named to the McDonald’s All-American team in 1994.
Recruited by the top division one programs in the country, Herren chose Boston College, only to break his wrist during his first collegiate game. Sidelined by his injury, Herren failed several drug tests and left Boston College shortly after.
Picked up by Fresno State and legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian, Herren went on to lead the Western Athletic Conference and the nation in assists and steals being named to the all-WAC first team in 1996 and 1997.
Herren was drafted in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. He played one year with the Nuggets, seeing action in 45 games prior to being 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. After being released from the Celtics, he played basketball overseas in five countries, Italy, Poland, Turkey, China and Iran.
Herren struggled with substance abuse for much of his basketball career and now frequently speaks about how the experience affected his life. His battles have been chronicled in his memoir, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir, and in the ESPN Films project Unguarded, which was released in Nov. 2011. Alcohol and drug-free since August 1, 2008, Herren has refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all else.
One of the main initiatives of The Herren Project is Project Purple, which was started to "break the stigma of addiction" and bring awareness to drug abuse and how it can be treated.
On Jan. 11-14, schools and community groups across the country will participate in the group's "Going Purple" campaign, where individuals will wear purple shirts and awareness bands to stand up against substance abuse.