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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

The Garden City Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 35th annual Fall Festival Street Fair set for Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Seventh Street. The chamber thanks the Garden City Hotel which will serve as the primary event sponsor.

JGS entertainment will return for the 16th year as master ceremonies providing music and vocals. There will be plenty of activities for the kids. Included will be the return of the two trackless trains carrying children 12 years of age and younger up and down Seventh Street sponsored by Coach Realtors and Garden City Teachers Association. There will be the traditional inflatable bouncy house sponsored by SMPL Technologies and the ever-popular money cube sponsored by Calogero’s and Leo’s. The Garden City Parks and Recreation Department will have giveaways and temporary tattoos.


Sports

Reminder

With the fall sports season upon us, the department of recreation and parks would like to remind all residents that pets are not allowed in any neighborhood parks, Community Park, or St. Paul’s fields. Non compliance with this rule will result in the issuance of appearance tickets.

Register For The Online Registration Option

Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will offer the option of online registration with credit card payment beginning with its winter programs in early December.

In order for a family to use the online registration option, the family will first need to visit the recreation and parks office at 108 Rockaway Ave. to verify residency and their family information and receive their password.  A list of instructions as to how to use the website will be included.

Stretching tips for the high school athlete

Prior to the start of high school running season, Garden City’s Physical Therapy Options (PTO) had an opportunity to provide a presentation to members of Sacred Heart Academy’s cross country team. Team members gathered at Garden City’s New York Running Company to learn strategies and tips for a successful fall season.

PTO staff members Dr. Meghan Goetz, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and PTO Aide Mike Murphy discussed the importance of stretching to prevent injury and provided strategies and tips for success for the high school runner.


Calendar

Garden City High School Homecoming

Saturday, October 25

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, October 27

A Map Of Artistic Inspiration

Saturday, November 1



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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