TROY — Thousands of Miami County students experienced the real-life testimony of former NBA player Chris Herren on Thursday during “Rebound: The Chris Herren Story,” a special presentation at Hobart Arena.
The program was presented in two installments to local junior high and high-schoolers, followed by a third evening installment open to the public.
During the program, Herren shared his story, beginning with high school basketball stardom in his hometown of Fall River, Mass. Herren realized a lifelong dream of playing for the NBA when he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1999, and was traded to the Boston Celtics after his rookie season. His professional career was lost, however, when a history of substance abuse caused a series of overdoses and felony charges.
Alcohol and drug-free since Aug. 1, 2008, Herren has refocused his life to prioritize his sobriety and family. He now engages in approximately 250 student and large-group presentations every year to share his experience in the hopes of “reaching at least one person” to continue making a difference.
The program was presented through a partnership between Troy City Schools and Premier Health.
“We partner with Troy City Schools for a number of things, and this was something they had approached us about,” said Elise Huelskamp, director of marketing for Premier Health. “One of the teachers at Troy Junior High School had heard Chris Herren present in the past, and they wanted to bring it to the students and the community. We looked into him, and realized his message was very powerful and impactful, and we knew this was something we wanted to bring to the Miami County region.”
In a statement to the press, Herren reflected on his experience with “Rebound,” stating, “I realized over the last eight years that it is not just about my story — it is about their story. The goal is to motivate them as they walk out of this arena today to think about who they are, not what I became.”
According to Herren, his message to young people continues to evolve, specifically emphasizing for young people to think about their decision-making and to consider that at the beginning of every drug abuse story, there’s always a “first time.”
“I believe in treatment, but if you really want to make an impact, you have to focus on prevention,” Herren said. “We have to focus on education. That is where we have fallen short.”
“He has such an inspirational story,” Huehlskamp said. “I think every student would benefit from hearing this message.”
For more on Herren’s outreach, visit www.theherrenproject.org.