One’s perspective on life changes when you’ve been deceased for 30 seconds the way Chris Herren once was.

There was a time when the young man blessed with God-given good looks and a wealth of basketball talent could only sink lower by passing away.

Which he eventually did.


One-by-one the years of drug and alcohol addiction pulled friends and family members from Herren’s circle while at the same time increasing the looks of disdain aimed his way.

Even Herren’s heart had enough following an overdose, so it, too, quit.

Sports appreciates a good comeback story, and Herren’s touches myriad emotions, to say the least.

On Aug. 12, Herren shares details of his rise, fall and eventual rise at Center Grove High School at a morning assembly for students Grades 8 through 12. That evening Herren is giving a presentation for community members inside the school’s auditorium.

Herren’s appearances are being sponsored by the CG Hardwood Club.

“About three years ago I saw the documentary “Unguarded” about Chris and what a good message he has. I thought more people need to hear that and how neat it would be to bring him to Center Grove,” Hardwood Club president Billy Bemis said.

‘Unguarded’ is part of the ESPN Films catalog. The Emmy-nominated release from 2011 tells of the pressures Herren experienced growing up as something of a schoolboy legend in Fall River, Mass.

Burdens that over time got to Herren as his adult life became a series of arrests, failed drug tests and professional basketball teams here and abroad taking a chance on him only to eventually give up.

There are too may low points to count when it comes to Herren’s 14-year battle with his personal demons. Being declared dead before being revived by paramedics ranks at or near the top.

The lesson being it can happen to anybody.

Herren this month celebrates his seventh consecutive year clean. Even at 39 he looks fit enough to compete for an NBA roster spot, though the Rhode Island resident understands that ship regrettably sailed long ago.

He now travels the country as a much-sought-after motivational speaker enforcing the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Herren’s message to “Be You” centers on the dangers of substance abuse and addiction; the difficulty often involved with saying ‘no.’

In 2011 he launched the Herren Project, a nonprofit organization responsible for privately funding recovery for addicts who could have never afforded it themselves.

Unable to fulfill his promise athletically, Herren has made it his life’s mission to atone through fundraisers and the kind of talks he’ll soon deliver at Center Grove.

“Kids today are faced with so many temptations, and some of them might be into Gateway drugs and then, boom, maybe someone offers them something stronger,” said Bemis, who with wife, Mindy, have four children in Center Grove School Corporation ranging from ninth-grade down to fifth-grade.

“Here’s a guy who was a star in his community, lost it all and then turned it around. Hopefully these kids hear this and maybe help each other out.”

For more information, call Bemis at (317) 696-0636 or email him at

Chris Herren pullout


Name: Chris Herren

Age: 39

Born: Fall River, Massachusetts

High school: Durfee H.S. – 1984

College: Fresno State University – 1999

Draft status: Taken by Denver in 2nd Round of 1999 NBA Draft

Did you know: Herren was a McDonald’s All-American after scoring 2,073 career points in boys basketball . . . Graduated from same Massachusetts high school that produced Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Brandon Gomes.

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at