Chat with Chris Herren
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, we'll chat with former local basketball hero and NBA player Chris Herren about his struggles on and off the court as portrayed in the latest ESPN Films project "Unguarded" that airs Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock tells the story of Herren, the Fall River, Mass. high school basketball stand-out. Herren dropped out of Boston College and landed on Jerry Tarkanian's notorious Fresno State team, where players were likely to be found on both police blotters and All-America lists. Herren failed drug tests at BC and Fresno State, but his talent got him drafted into the NBA, ending up with the Boston Celtics.
After a string of successes and failures, Herren bounced from team to team, country to country. Ultimately, Herren found redemption and personal fulfillment through the game, but only after it led him literally around the world, down a path of alcohol and drug addiction that nearly killed him.
Send your questions now and join Herren Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:59 PM)
Chris is here!
How did Chris and the producers decide on the name "Unguarded" for the documentary? Thank you.
Chris Herren (3:00 PM)
I had nothing to do with the title. I think that all came from ESPN. I'm not aware of where it came from or where they came up with it. They called me to tell me that they had some names for titles and Unguarded would probably be the one, I was OK with it.
Conor Kearney (Boston, MA)
Chris -- We faced off when I attended Boston College High School and you lit me up pretty good (do you remember?) In any event, I've followed your story and couldn't be happier for you. What was it like, working with the filmmakers on this project? All the best -- CHK.
Chris Herren (3:01 PM)
The filmmakers were great. It was a great experience. It's something that we'll have a relationship for many many years because of the process we went through together. I have nothing but huge respect for Jon Hock and Hock Films.
Big Mike (Fall River, MA)
With such a great story do you see your life being turned into a movie i.e. The Fighter?
Chris Herren (3:02 PM)
It's just one day at a time for me. I don't have any plans or anything set up for this to turn into a movie. I'm happy with the way this documentary came out. I'm just going to let this play out before anything else is decided on.
Was there a specific moment that you realized you needed to turn things around for yourself?
Chris Herren (3:03 PM)
I don't like to look back for those moments. If I worried about certain crossroads that I came to or forks that I could have made a different decision, there were hundreds of them. But where I am at today, mentally, physically, spiritually, there is not a need to look back.
What message would you like the film to give?
Chris Herren (3:04 PM)
I think that all depends on where that person is in their life. For younger kids who aspire to be an athlete, the choices they make at a very young age will dictate whether they will be able to reach their goals and will stay with them for many years. As well as a message for hope that people with addiction never seem like you can turn it around. If you can breath and you're alive and you give in, there is a way out of it.
Chris who was the best guard, aside from yourself, to come out of Mass in the 90's?
Chris Herren (3:05 PM)
There were great guards. I think Penn, Turner were definitely great basketball players and backcourt mates with me. Those guys alone in my era went on to play and be successful in basketball.
Donald (Los Angeles, CA)
Did you ever end up getting your degree?
Chris Herren (3:06 PM)
That's a tough one. I have not. Obviously, talking about life and my issues and substance abuse is much easier for me today since I'm sober. That being said, one of the toughest things I talk about is not capitalizing on my opportunity to get an education.
Chris, in looking back at your situation, was there any one thing or factor that think led to your fall?
Chris Herren (3:07 PM)
I think there were a few things. The number one thing was I had a serious addiction issue that I was born with. I started feeding that at a young age with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine. That led me to a different lifestyle and range of drugs.
The sky was the limit for your career. Would you still be playing?
Chris Herren (3:08 PM)
I'm 36, so I'd probably be done by done. But that's the thing, the sky's the limit today. I think that sometimes people get caught up in sky was the limit for me when I was playing basketball. I would like to switch that and say the sky is the limit today as well. That's how I fell about that.
Derek Malloy (East Greenwich RI)
Was your intent to do drugs unavoidable, or did you feel it came with the Fame and Image?
Chris Herren (3:09 PM)
That played a part in it. The pressures to be somebody and the expectations that are set on you. I started at a young age making poor decisions. When you do that, you can't expect great results. Having a book written about me when I was 15-16 and all of that definitely added to my pressure.
Chris, you are one of the main reasons I started to follow basketball growing up as a kid. I will never forget watching you play for Fresno State! You brought so much excitement to the Valley! We are all proud of you! Bulldog Born, Bulldog Bred!
Chris Herren (3:10 PM)
All love. Nothing but love for Frenos. They stayed with me through thick and thin, through my ups and downs. I have nothing but love and great, great memories for the people in Fresno.
what do you tell kids that you talk to today?
Chris Herren (3:11 PM)
To take care of themselves and everything else will follow. Without a good emotional and mental well being, the physical won't be there. It's important to let them know that if you hit the lottery and make the NBA, not many reach that point, and even if you do, you're done at 35 and you have a long life to live. So you need to take care of yourself and be good to yourself.
Tara (Bronx, NY)
Was there any time while you were about to use or while you were high that you like you were not going to live through that day/night? Ever have a gut feeling you were really about to overdose?
Chris Herren (3:12 PM)
Oh, of course. There were times when I didn't want to make it through the night and I wanted it to end. I thank God every day that I chose a different path.
how are your relationships with family and friends?
Chris Herren (3:13 PM)
I'm very fortunate to have many, many great relationships that have carried over from my bad days. Friends that I pushed away that I'm very close with. I have three children and a wife who stayed with me through this whole ordeal. I'm blessed to have that.
What do you make of this lockout in the NBA?
Chris Herren (3:14 PM)
The lockout is tough for everybody. There are arena vendors, workers, the guys who put the floors in who are out of jobs. I feel for the guys who set the place up and break it down more so than I feel for the players and owners.
do you still follow the NBA? College?
Chris Herren (3:15 PM)
I follow the kids that come through Hoop Dreams, a company that we started three years ago. There are many college kids that come through and workout there. I follow them closely than the game in general.
Chris Herren (3:16 PM)
Thank you. Thank you for all of your support. All of your e-mails, your words of encouragement and most of all your prayers. It means a lot. It's definitely needed. I appreciate it. Thank you.