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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 Senior Center Expansion and Rehabilitation Project took a major step forward this month when the Garden City Board of Trustees unanimously voted in a special meeting to accept the gift of the model house from the Doubleday Court Development on Franklin Avenue. Project developers, The Engel Burman Group, graciously donated the house to the

Incorporated Village of Garden City. The one-story structure was originally built to serve as a model and sales office for the Franklin Avenue project.

 

“We are glad to have The Engel Burman Group as part of our village and thank them for this most generous gift. We look forward to providing a state-of-the art facility for our seniors in Garden City,” Mayor John Watras said. 

Department headed by former assistant director

The Garden City Public School District is excited to welcome Lynette Abruzzo as its new director of Pupil Personnel Services (PPS). The position was vacated by Catherine Wheeler, who retired this summer. Abruzzo began working in the district earlier this year in January as the assistant director of PPS. 

 

“I look forward to supporting the students here. To support their growth, help prepare them so that they have all the tools they need to be successful when they leave here. To be successful in their life and maximize their potential,” Abruzzo said of her plans for the new position. 


Sports

Dance Conservatory Program

 

The Garden City Recreation Department’s Dance Conservatory Program is pleased to announce the start of registration for its upcoming 2014-15 season. Director Felicia Lovaglio, along with Mary Searson and the rest of her staff, are excited to start off another fantastic year. The dance conservatory offers classes to Garden City residents ages 3 through adult which are non-performance based. Age is determined by the start date of the desired class. 

 

Note: Registration is by mail only until Sept. 23. Participants MUST be the required age by the start of the program in order to register. 

 

Each session costs $220 for 22 weeks of class. The schedule and fees for this year’s youth classes are as follows (all classes are 55 minutes long unless otherwise noted): 

Fall Children’s Tennis Classes

Registration for the start of the Fall 2014 Indoor Tennis Program for Children has begun at the Community Park Tennis Center. Walkins and non-resident children attending Garden City Public Schools* will be accepted beginning Sept. 11. Please make checks payable to the “Inc. Village of Garden City." Please note—classes are not considered day care and can not be declared for tax exemption.

* Non resident children who would like to register for the tennis program must prove they attend one of the Garden City Public Schools. Proof must accompany registration. An additional $50 fee will pertain to anyone in this category.

10 weeks of classes—classes will begin Thursday, Sept. 18


Calendar

Living With Pulmonary Fibrosis Program - September 18

Harpeth Rising Concert - September 19 

JV Football - September 20


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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