GREENVILLE – The struggle to make positive life choices is real for many teens.
At the end of a school assembly on Tuesday, several Greenville Middle School students felt prompted to tearfully share situations they’ve been forced to face – a parent currently serving time in prison, a family member being found dead of a drug overdose, a family member’s death due to drugs, living with an alcoholic parent.
The impromptu sharing was the result of a nearly two-hour assembly with guest speaker, recovering drug addict and former NBA star Chris Herron.
Students were introduced to Herron’s life through a film, The First Day, before he took the floor to share even more of his story — and encourage students to consider how life decisions affect not only their lives but the lives of those they love.
Herron, 44, is a former Boston Celtic who nearly lost his life from an overdose in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.
Herron described how living with an alcoholic father led him to try beer at age 13. “Why did this (beer) make my dad not come home at night?”
Soon he was smoking pot. His family, coaches and teachers had no idea “who I had become.”
At first, Herron’s substance abuse didn’t affect his ability on the court. He was a high school basketball star who chose to stay close to home and play for Boston College. He didn’t make it through his freshman year due to his drug and alcohol habit.
Pot and beer soon led to stealing prescription drugs like Perccset. Cocaine and heroin followed. After getting kicked out of Boston College, Herron was recruited by Fresno State.
When he failed a drug test, he was sent to a 28-day rehab.
From Fresno, Herron was a Round 2 pick with the Denver Nuggets. A year later, he found himself a Boston Celtic – a goal he’d dreamed of as a child.
Drugs, he said, continued to be a force in his life. In fact, he couldn’t play without them. He told the students how at one point his addiction to Oxycontin forced him to wait for his dealer outside the Celtics arena — in the rain, in his uniform — just minutes before the start of a game.
His addiction to heroin almost cost Herron his family and his life. He was in another rehab program when his wife went into labor with their third son. He got out for the birth, but being drug-free didn’t last.
In June 2008, he put his two oldest children on the school bus, then went out to buy some drugs. He drove to the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot to shoot up.
The next thing he knew, paramedics were reviving him. One of the medics told Herron he’d been dead for several seconds.
Today, Herron is 11 and a half years sober. He now teaches basketball, runs several recovery programs and shares his story with young people.
The decisions they make today, Herron told the middle school students, will affect their future. Herron also tied in how these decisions will affect other people in the students’ lives, including family members and friends.
“This assembly doesn’t end here. This assembly begins when you walk out of here,” Herron told students at the end of his middle school presentation. “There’s kids in here, right now, that are doing things. Kids sitting on these bleachers right now.”
Herron encouraged students to befriend each other and help each other. He also spoke about the importance of students talking with an adult they can trust if they need help with problems, such as parents, grandparents, teachers or guidance counselors.
Herron also spent time Tuesday afternoon speaking with Greenville High School students and staff. The assemblies were hosted by Premier Health and the Coalition for a Healthy Darke County.
More about Herron’s recovery, as well as The First Day video, may be found at thefirstdayfilm.com