MARINETTE - A former NBA player says he's living proof the battle against addiction can be won. Chris Herren played professionally for seven years before an overdose almost killed him.
Now he's spreading the word to groups around the country. His latest stop was Marinette High School.
Chris Herren says he was born to play basketball.
"I was talented, gifted. I grew up with basketball in my genes," said Herren.
The Massachusetts high school standout landed a scholarship to Boston College. At age 18, Herren failed a drug test after trying cocaine.
"I had no idea that one line of cocaine would lead me to being expelled from that university four months later," said Herren.
Herren signed on with Fresno State, and would play three years in the NBA, including a stint with his hometown Boston Celtics.
But Herren says all the time he struggled with drugs. He used cocaine, OxyContin, and eventually heroin.
"I played in five different countries, and did drugs in every country," said Herren.
Herren says by age 28 he quit the game, but his drug abuse continued.
"It was a bad batch of heroin, and I was found overdosed. I crashed my vehicle," said Herren.
Herren says that was a wake up call. A month later, he was getting treatment, and getting sober.
Herren has written a book on his addiction, and been the subject of a documentary. But he says high school talks are his favorite.
"High school kids are the most impressionable. I believe that high school kids are the ones that need to be heard, not just talked to," said Herren.
Students say Herren's message will not soon be forgotten.
"It will definitely hit home here. We have a big problem here in Marinette and Menominee, the cities and what not. We've been known for that. It's not a good reputation at all, but it needs to be fixed pretty soon," said Derek Klegin, Marinette High School senior.
"I think it will change a lot of people, coming from a guy that has changed, and he went through that much, and now he's helping other people," said Quentin Ellie, Marinette High School senior.
The non-profit group Up North Hoops sponsored the speech.
Herren also met with the local drug task force Friday afternoon.
The group is made up of judges, the district attorney and law enforcement officers.
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