Try looking into his eyes.
Ten minutes before game time, on what should have been one of the greatest days in his life, he was starting for the first time as a Boston Celtic, in front of his family, friends, Celtic fans and the City of Fall River; but unbeknown to most, he was outside the Fleet Center (Boston Garden) dressed in his warm ups, waiting for his drug dealer and his Oxycontin fix.
He got it and then played a great game. Bill Reynolds, Providence Journal columnist, wrote along with Chris, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir documenting his career on and off the court. In it he wrote…If he (Chris) was great under the influence… just imagine how really good he would have been if he wasn’t…
Chris Herren owned the City of Fall River and the City owned him.
Last night (November 1st) I watched the ESPN documentary Unguarded a powerful and emotional story of Chris Herren’s fall from glory and his “one day at a time”attempt at living.
The film is about a extremely talented young man that lives in the dark world of drugs and just happens to play basketball better than most people on the planet. The documentary should be required viewing for every parent, teacher, coach, child and addict…for that matter just about everybody should watch it.
I was lucky to see him play in one high school game and to this day I have always regretted that I didn’t go to more of his games. The game was Durfee High School (Fall River, Massachusetts) against Duxbury High School, another good team lead by a very good Bill Curley. I remember that Herren looked bored and was not into the game in the first half and then in the second half literally took over the game. He was the best high school basketball player I had ever seen play.
I will not get into the documentary … just watch it … it is more than a story about a young basketball player… it is about a “once in a life time” athlete ‘owning’ a city and, in turn, the city ‘owning’ him.
I will though give you one memorable anecdote from the film…
Chris recalls a rock bottom episode of a police officer, reviving him, after overdosing on heroin and crashing his car, and then telling him he was literally dead for “30 seconds” sends chills through your heart and soul.
Chris Herren is 36 years old today and he is living one day at a time.
I wish him well.