Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Dave Graham, Active Minds President and Eric Silverstein, Active Minds Member
Former NBA standout Chris Herren’s story has many parts: dreams, drugs, fame, a near fatal car crash, pain, relapse and redemption, along with the rise and fall of an NBA career. On April 2, Kalamazoo College will welcome Herren, who was a Boston Celtics point guard and is the focus of ESPN 30:30 documentary “Unguarded.” He will be presenting his first-hand account of a gritty tale of substance abuse, the pressures of being a basketball star from a young age and the adversities he has overcome. His experiences will walk the audience through the double life he experienced—the enthralling highs of being an NBA standout and the appalling lows addiction brought him.
Throughout his professional career, Herren premiered as a top competitor in the NBA while feeding an addiction strong enough to inhibit his performance on the court and infiltrate his daily life. Addiction ultimately tore him away from the game he loved, threatened his family, led to arrests, homelessness and suicide ideation. A near death experience instigated his recovery and he has been sober since 2008.
Balancing the rigors of being a sports icon while having this “gorilla on his back” was an impossible task to manage for Herren. When he talks about his experiences, he avoids the typical “don’t do drugs” pitch. Instead he vividly re-tells the truth behind what addiction is really like. He strives to rid addiction of the false conceptions that so many have.
His speeches allow listeners to get inside the mind of a drug addict. Understanding what addiction really is, and the way that it can even affect someone at the pinnacle of sports stardom, helps break common misconceptions about it. It’s an issue that can affect everyone: your friends, your family, your classmates.
Herren will speak in Dalton Theater at 8 p.m. The event is hosted by Active Minds and co-sponsored by the Athletic Leadership Council.