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Basketball Drug Diaries

Chris Herren shares painful and personal odyssey

Despite the crowd of more than 400, you could have heard a pin drop, during the recent airing of Chris Herren’s introductory video and live presentation at Garden City high school on March 25. It was a very emotional evening as the former professional basketball player shared his descent from small town hero to drug addict. The ex-Boston Celtic left little to the imagination as he shared his journey and the details that led to his fall. Parents, students, teachers, school administrators and community members sat transfixed as he shared his painful personal odyssey.

Herren told the riveted audience how he made his hometown of Falls River, Mass. proud. His stellar high school career earned him a spot as point guard for the Boston College Eagles. However, that dream came crashing down with one act that Herren wishes he could change. A fellow student offered him a line of cocaine and urged him on by telling him,  'It wouldn’t hurt him.' Herren rationalized his choice by saying, “I’ll try it this one time.” That one time turned into a 14-year-addiction that led to homelessness, near death and estrangement from his wife and three children.

Herren told the audience about how he was given many second chances. Despite being kicked out of Boston College, and continued drug use resulting in a $25,000 a month oxycodone habit, he went on to play for Fresno State. When he finished college, he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets. In October 2000, Herren was traded to the Boston Celtics in what should have been the realization of a boyhood dream for the New England native. Instead of celebrating or appreciating the moment that his name was called for the first time as a member of the Celtics, Herren was consumed with getting a fix.

Herren disappointed many family members. When he recalled how his five-year-old son asked him, “Why don’t you want to be my Daddy anymore?” a visibly shaken Herren paused but continued. Throughout the presentation, audible gasps and sobs were heard among the crowd as Herren pounded home that no one starts out wanting to become a drug addict and that addiction starts with alcohol and marijuana, which most people consider to be harmless. Herren ended his session sharing that he wished he had the courage and was comfortable with himself as a teenager to just say, “No.” He added, “There is no reason to change who you are.”

The following day, the entire study body filed into the high school auditorium and sat in awe listening to Herren’s harrowing experience. He reiterated how most addicts start with red solo cups in a basement or dark fields smoking a blunt. Herren told students that the decision to try cocaine changed his life forever.

“We don’t start off as heroin addicts,” said Herren. “No one says, ‘I can’t wait to stick a needle in my arm.’” He explained a substance problem can start through experimenting with a beer or smoking a joint, and can quickly become a slippery slope toward addiction.

He told students how he rolled his eyes at these types of presentations while he was in high school.

“I sat there just like you, when I was your age and heard all the same speeches,” added Herren. “From the bottom of my heart, I’m here to tell you, I had no idea at age 18 it would take 14 years to walk away.”

Herren advised his teen audience to “Tell yourself, I am good enough to be me. I don’t need to drink or drug to fit in or have social status.” He also encouraged teenagers not to stand idly by and to help friends get assistance for their use of alcohol or other drugs.

The presentation was sponsored by the Jamie and Paige Malone Foundation, Garden City Community Coalition and the Garden City PTA.  

Since 2002, The Garden City Community Coalition has dedicated their resources to provide prevention education on drug and alcohol abuse, internet safety and bullying. These efforts are funded through donations and limited grants. To volunteer, obtain additional information or make a donation, contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Lori Kuster, Garden City High School social worker at 516-478-2617, or Katie Colavito at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

News

New leaders In Garden City Public Schools

Due to retirements, Garden City Public Schools is welcoming two new administrators: Dawn Cerrone will serve as the director of Athletics and Physical Education, and Lynette Abruzzo was appointed as the director of Pupil Personnel Services.

Cerrone was awarded her building and district administrative certificates from Albany’s College of St. Rose in 2008 and 2009, respectively. She received her Master’s in Health Education from Hofstra University in 1989 and her Bachelor’s in Physical Education from St. Bonaventure University in 1986.

Long Island University (LIU) announced that Garden City native Dr. Kimberly R. Cline has been honored as a 2014 Distinguished Leader in Education by Education Update.

Past recipients of the publication’s Distinguished Leader in Education awards include: Harold (Terry) McGraw III, chairman of the board and former president and chief executive officer of The McGraw-Hill Companies; Dr. Susan H. Fuhrman, president of Teachers College, Columbia University; and Dr. Lisa S. Coico, president of The City College of New York.


Sports

Fall Roller Hockey Programs Announced

The Garden City Recreation and Parks Department will once again offer various roller hockey programs this fall for both youth & adults who reside in the Inc. Village of Garden City. Whether you played in the past or looking to get involved, there is no better time to sign up and experience all the fun. All programs take place at the roller rink located at Community Park. Please note at this time, the recreation department is just announcing its programs. Fees and registration information will be announced at a later date.

This season, the roller hockey programs are broken down into grades. Please pay careful attention as grades and dates/times have changed:

Garden City gals lead FLG

to three championships

The FLG 2018 girls have established themselves as one of FLG’s premier teams of the summer. Garden City’s Julia Kavan and Anna Mandaro at the midfield and Megan Sprotte and Ann Sullivan defensively led their team to three championships this summer. The girls “really started to gel and play as a unit,” said Coach McGinty, successfully executing new plays, transitioning well and crashing on defense. With the improvements across the board, the team hasn’t lost a game since the first tournament of the summer. These girls were leaders on and off the field and are taking FLG Girls Lacrosse to the next level.


Calendar

Friday Night Promenade

Friday, August 22

The Little Mermaid JR

Saturday, August 23

Getting Your Feet Wet

Tuesday, Aug. 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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