Saint Andrew’s School often invites guest speakers to give presentations for students and parents. And once in a while, a presentation is so riveting that it brings new meaning to the phrase the audience was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
On Thursday, January 16, 2020, Chris Herren, who was featured on ESPN’s 30 for 30, gave presentations to Saint Andrew’s School audiences including teachers, parents, and students. He spoke about how drug addiction stole his dream of playing in the NBA and how getting clean and sober awakened a second career as an inspirational speaker.
Chris Herren was a former star in the NBA in the late 90s and early 2000s. A native of Massachusetts, Chris Herren was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1998 and was traded to the Celtics after one year. He played for the Celtics from 2000-2001 until a season-ending injury.
Despite his rise to the top of the NBA, Herren’s remarks didn’t linger over the glory of that accomplishment. Rather, Herren came to Saint Andrew’s School to continue the fulfillment of his lifelong mission: to help young people stay away from drugs, alcohol, and addiction.
The presentation Chris gave to the SA community was entitled, “The First Day.” The 75-minute assembly started with a film presentation highlighting his basketball career and journey to sobriety. Upon the conclusion of the film, Chris took the microphone and shared experiences that have impacted his life as a teenager, athlete, and speaker.
Herren told the story of the years he was addicted to alcohol and drugs, and how by the time he played for the Celtics, he was addicted to heroin. During his season with the Celtics, he was sidelined with an injury. Off the court, his life fell apart and he was eventually found unconscious in his car, a needle hanging from his arm and heroin residue in the vehicle.
The tale he told continued with descriptions of the years of playing in Europe, interspersed with stints in rehab and how since August 2008, he has been sober.
He touched on topics as drinking, smoking marijuana, vaping, pill use, peer pressure, bullying, and cutting - all in highly relatable and engaging ways.
“Not only did Chris detail his personal nightmare with addiction, but he also shared stories of teens who he has helped to overcome their own battles with drugs, bullying, and family problems,” said Dr. Mark Stonkus, Director of Wellness. “Our hope is that his words provide lasting understanding and motivation for our students to make safe decisions when faced with choices of substance use, and to have the confidence to ask for help when faced with a struggle,” he added.
To conclude the event, Herren fielded thoughtful questions from the audience and left many with much to consider and reflect upon.
According to Herren’s website, he founded the nonprofit Herren Project dedicated to providing navigation of treatment, educational programs, and mentoring to people affected by addiction and to educate people of all ages on the dangers of substance abuse.
Herren makes more than 100 appearances each year at schools, colleges, and community organizations to tell his story and to support teens and adults in their journey to become or remain sober and drug-free.
Saint Andrew’s wishes to thank parents Tricia Callahan, Gita and Mark Costa, and Shelley and Craig Menin for generously supporting the two presentations by Chris Herren.