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There was a time in 2001 when Boston Celtics guard Chris Herren was supposed to make a rare start for the C’s, and several family members were on hand at the FleetCenter in Boston.

During pregame warmups, however, Herren was nowhere to be found. It was later told that Herren, in full uniform, was outside in the pouring rain waiting to meet his drug dealer.

Who is Chris Herren?

Chris Herren is a Massachusetts high school basketball legend who went on to play college basketball for Jerry Tarkanian at Fresno State. He was also a drug addict.

Herren originally played college basketball at Boston College, but he battled a wrist injury and then failed multiple drug tests and was forced to leave the school. Herren then enrolled at Fresno State, where he averaged nearly 18 points per game as a sophomore.

In November of 1997, Herren failed another drug test and didn’t return to the team for two months.

After a career at Fresno State that saw him average 15 points and five assists per game, Herren was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft. Herren, along with Bryant Stith, was traded to the Boston Celtics in October of 2000 for Calbert Cheaney and Robert Pack.

Herren played 25 games for the Celtics before being released. He then played professionally overseas. Herren’s son, Chris, now plays basketball at Boston College.

Chris Herren’s powerful message

On June 4, 2008, Herren was found slumped over the steering wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer and was arrested for heroin possession. That was one of many rock bottoms for Herren, but it was also one of his best days.

“I’ve had so many rock bottoms,” said Herren. “When I was found on Oak Grove Ave. on June 4, 2008, that was probably one of the best days of my life. It was pivotal to getting me to where I am now.”

Where he is now is helping others. Herren has been a motivational speaker, touring the country and telling his fascinating story to students in middle schools, high schools and also speaking to NFL rookies on the dangers of substance abuse.

In 2018, Herren founded Herren Wellness, a residential health and wellness program that helps people lead healthy and substance-free lives.

Herren has been sober since that frightening day in 2008.

ESPN’s two documentaries on the life of Chris Herren

In 2011, an ESPN documentary titled ‘Unguarded’ was aired and became an instant success as it detailed Herren’s struggles with substance abuse both on and off the basketball court.

The documentary, directed by Jonathan Hock, was nominated for a pair of Emmy Awards in 2012. ‘Unguarded’ opened the door to help Herren spread his message.

ESPN followed up ‘Unguarded’ with another film called ‘The First Day,’ which was released last year. ‘The First Day’ takes a look at Herren’s life as a motivational speaker and how he helps spread his message to students and parents, while also helping those in need with his wellness program.