Former NBA Star to Speak at Downers Grove North About Drug Abuse

Former Boston Celtics point guard Chris Herren will speak about his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse during a special event at North High on Oct. 10.

Photo Credit: Community High School District 99
Photo Credit: Community High School District 99
Former Boston Celtics point guard Chris Herren will speak about his long battle with drug and alcohol addiction at a special event hosted by Community High School District 99 next month.

Herren, who has been sober for five years, will speak in the North High auditorium, 4436 Main St., at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 as part of "Red Ribbon Week." The event is free and open to the public.

Herren's 14-year battle with drug addiction began during his freshman year at Boston College, when he tried cocaine for the first time. He was kicked out of the school the same year after failing three drug tests for marijuana and cocaine use.

The drug abuse continued at Fresno State, where Herren played basketball from 1996 to 1999.

In 2000, Herren was drafted by the Denver Nuggets before being traded to the Boston Celtics. He developed an addiction to several prescription painkillers during his time in the NBA, and went on to use heroin and crystal meth while playing basketball overseas.

Herren's drug abuse has resulted in several overdoses and felonies, including driving under the influence and possession of heroin.

Herren, now 37, finally overcame his addiction to drugs and alcohol after intensive rehabilitation and several relapses and has been drug-free since Aug. 1, 2008. He started up a program called Hoop Dreams in 2009 to mentor young basketball players on an off the court, and published an autobiography, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir, in 2011. 

He now travels throughout the United States, sharing his story with students and adults alike.

“We feel that Chris Herren will help everyone understand that no one is invincible or immune to the destructive forces of drugs and alcohol,” said Diana Benoist, student assistance coordinator at Downers Grove South High School. “No matter how dark things seem, though, recovery is always possible.”

Herren's appearance at North High is planned in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week, a national campaign scheduled for Oct. 21-29 that encourages students to make healthy choices and abstain from drug and alcohol use.

“Bringing in an outside speaker, in particular one who is a celebrity, reinforces the messages we give to students every day about the importance of making healthful choices,” said Keith Bullock, student assistance coordinator at North High. “Through education, prevention is our hope and mission.”

For more information on the event, contact Keith Bullock at North (kbullock@csd99org or 630-795-8488) or Diana Benoist at South High (dbenoist@csd99.org or 630-795-8588).

Patch Editor John Castelluccio contributed to this report.


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