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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

Preparedness is the best remedy for Ebola

Winthrop University Hospital hosted a presentation on the current Ebola epidemic, at the Garden City Library, on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sponsored by the village’s Property Owners’ Associations, John F. Collins, president and CEO of Winthrop University Hospital and Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, Winthrop’s Chief Medical Officer provided an overview of the disease along with an update on Winthrop’s preparedness plan.

Dr. Ammazzalorso began his presentation heeding that despite the waning in the press, the disease is still with us. He provided both historical and current day perspectives regarding the epidemic, advising that Ebola is not a new disease. The medical community has been aware of the disease for at least 40 years. Originating in the Congo, Ebola is a zoonosis a disease which has its reservoir in animals and was known for small sporadic outbreaks associated with people who handled bats and rodents or those who consumed bush meat. The current outbreak originated in West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. He noted in Africa that more than 45,000 people have died from the disease.

Multiple options help village avoid problems

While parking around LIRR train stations is typically a challenge, even on a regular work day, it’s not necessarily the case for Garden City residents, who have five departure points to choose from. The stations—Nassau Boulevard, Garden City, Stewart Manor, Country Life Press and the south side of Merillon Avenue—provide a grand total of 866 spots. (See page 13 sidebar for lot-by-lot breakdown). It’s a luxury many municipalities don’t have, particularly during the holidays. Annual permits run $150 for residents and $300 for non-residents and while people who call Garden City can use any of these five stations, non-residents are restricted to using the 70 spots allocated for their use over at the Stewart Manor station.

LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said that ridership between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by at least 10 percent; last year it was by 12 percent. Though the MTA is adding more trains to the schedule, that doesn’t ease the parking situation, which is operated not by the LIRR, but by individual municipalities in each town.


Sports

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes began the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes begin the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, please visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave. Space is limited so please register early.


Calendar

Sultans of String to play

Friday, November 21

Garden City Chamber Music Society Performance

Sunday, November 23

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, November 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com