Most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the school year you can find Chris Herren sharing his message in a school auditorium, on a gym floor or in a community center across the country. He has spoken in front of professional sports teams and athletes, top college programs and in most settings imaginable from schools, to prisons to athletic fields and arenas.
Grateful for the opportunity to share his story, Chris never set out to become a public speaker in fact he was just trying to help a mom reach her son after she read about Chris’s journey in a May 2009 Boston Globe article. Chris shares how he started speaking to kids in an excerpt from his memoir, Basketball Junkie.
“One of the other immediate results of the Boston Globe article was that I got a call from a woman who asked if I would talk to her son. He had a serious drug problem, and was off at a private school for kids with substance abuse issues. From the beginning I knew I could help him. I had been there. I could talk his language. That was the start of speaking to kids about the danger of drugs, how they have the power to take everything away from you, your hopes, your dreams, all the things you hold most dear in the world. About how drugs are a game you’re not going to win.”
From speaking to kids one on one to larger audiences, Chris realized early on that his words made an impact. He had a unique way to connect to an audience, encourage them to look within and reflect on ways to uncover their best self.
“And when I speak I can see the one kid who nods his head, and the one that doesn’t want to look at me. I see the ones who look bored, and the ones who just stare, who knows they’re thinking? But I also know that they have to hear it, for I have learned that addiction isn’t just my story, but a huge story out there that effects countless people, and I have the potential to help some of them. And I’ve come to see this as a gift, for I know I can help people.”
Since 2009, Chris has spoken to over one million students and audiences of all ages. The feedback over the years has been impactful as they reach out through e-mail and social media to share their thoughts, stories and provide updates to our team on their journeys.
Now almost 10 years later, Chris continues to share his story nationally with a renewed focus on prevention education and challenging audiences to rethink how we look at the disease of addiction; changing the focus from the last day to the first. He acknowledges that the path to addiction can start with a single choice and embraces the hope that it also can lead to a path of recovery.
As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.