Chris Herren Proves Failed Athletes Can Turn Their Lives Around

Matt FaulconerFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2011

26 Nov 1998: Chris Herren #24 of the Fresno St. Bulldogs listens to coach Danny Tarkanian during the Carrs Great Alaska Shootout Game against the U of Alaska at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska. Fresno defeated Alaska 82-79. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw  /Allsport
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Success stories can not be without failures.

Chris Herren's NBA career was a disaster after he had a promising collegiate career. He was drafted No. 33 by the Denver Nuggets in 1999, but lasted just one season in Denver before heading to Boston to play with the Celtics for one year.

He averaged just three points per game during his NBA career and bottomed out before being arrested for possession of heroin just a few years later.

Herren has now turned things around.

ESPN Films debuted a documentary on Herren last night titled "Unguarded." The story laid out the rise and fall of Herren's life and basketball career.

He was a small town hero coming from Fall River, Massachusetts that bottomed out once he reached the NBA. The pressure of being successful led Herren to the breaking point. He turned to drugs, and literally ruined his life and career.

He turned it around though.

He's been sober for three years. He takes everything one day at a time. His addiction is no longer consuming him.

Herren now helps young athletes and kids to recover from their addictions. One of the athletes that he has helped is Florida Gators basketball player Erik Murphy. The Gators forward was arrested after trying to break into a car a year ago.

Murphy's father, Tim Murphy, who is a former NBA player, sent him to Herren to help him turn his life around.

Both Murphy and Herren spoke with ESPN about their relationship.

“I told Erik, if that's the worst mistake that he makes than he's lived a pretty good life,” Herren said. “If he can turn this mistake around and use it for a positive, and I think Erik will, he will be great. Erik, I care about as a person more than a basketball player and I think he will handle this and learn from it.”

“He's been great with me, working-out wise and helping me out,” Murphy said. “He had a lot of issues and then I had my little bump in the spring, too. So he's helped me out with that too, so has my family, coach, everybody else.”

Herren has turned his life around, but he is by no means in the clear yet. He has been sober for three years, but relapses can happen at any moment.

There isn't a single person in the world that can root against Herren after all he has gone through. He has greatly improved his life, and appears to have everything in order for the time being.

Now, let's just hope he keeps it that way.