Chris Herren: Ex-Basketball Star Rebounds After Near-Death Experiences

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIINovember 2, 2011

26 Nov 1998:  Guard Chris Herren #24 of Fresno State Bulldogs looks on during the Carrs Great Alaska Shootout Game against Alaska Anchorage at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw  /Allsport
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Chris Herren, a drug-afflicted basketball player, has turned his life around after nearly ending it on many occasions.

The former Fresno State Bulldog is now traveling the country, chronicling students with the stories of his drug-soaked past—one that knocked him out of his basketball life.

Now 36 years old, the promising young baller from Fall River, Massachusetts is buried in his memories. While playing at Durfee High School, Herren garnered the attention of many. He seemed ready to take the next step, as his on-court game was far beyond anyone’s around him.

You could always catch Herren tossing in a mean fist-pump after a made basket or a no-look pass. He had the goods and the town around him knew it.

Soon enough, the weight of the town’s expectations weighed down on the player. Unguarded, a documentary on ESPN regarding his life, shows it took a toll on him at an early age. As a teen, every move he made was expected to be done so responsibly.

After an injury at Boston College curbed his season, Herren traveled to Fresno State to play hoops. His level of play was incredible. Someone in the documentary commented that he did it all without focusing solely on the game, and he was curious to know how good he would have been if he hadn’t got caught up in drugs.

John Finnegan wrote “Hoop Dreams Deferred: The Sad Tale of Chris Herren,” where he talked about the downfall of the guard.

“In December 2004, Herren was charged with possession of heroin and driving under the influence with a revoked license in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot in Portsmouth, RI.”

After being taken in the second round of the NBA draft in 1999, Chris Herren’s drug use spiraled out of control. He hit rock bottom, but has been able to rebound and salvage his life.

He now travels to schools to give young adults a detailed look into how bad it can actually get. He doesn’t sugar-coat his struggles, he broadcasts them. He tells the students how easily everything can come crashing down.

"I've been to hell and back," said Herren. "I lived the life that most people, a lot of people, don't get a chance to come out of, straight up. By the grace of God and the help from a plethora of people, I was able to come out of this.”

Herren finally took his life by the reins, and his immediate reaction was to try and keep the next generation out of the hole he fell into.

It’s a very honorable move by a changed man.