On May 31, 2009 a story ran in the Boston Globe highlighting Chris’s journey, the struggle and the gratitude he felt to be in recovery and living one day at a time sober. It also mentioned that he hoped to start a basketball school for kids.
Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren was started in June of 2009 with just a few players and people who believed in Chris and the power of recovery. Hours of dribbling, conditioning, skill repetition, sweat, tears and hard work were logged in, one hour at a time on the court at St. Philomena’s in Portsmouth, RI during the early years and then on the courts at the Pennfield School and St. Brendan’s in Riverside. Chris captured in his own words the start to his renewed journey with basketball in his memoir, Basketball Junkie.
“In the Boston Globe article, it said how I was thinking of starting a basketball school. The next day or so I got a call from a Boston lawyer and he asked me if I would work out his son. The word started to get out, and a former Durfee star reached out about his daughter and a local Portsmouth High School player who had just finished his freshman year reached out. More people were hearing about what I was doing, and I knew I needed a gym in Portsmouth, because I wasn’t going to have a license for the next two years.
There were a couple of places that said no, and then I got a meeting with the principal of a Catholic elementary school, less than two miles from my house. Her name is Donna Glavine. She asked me some questions, then she said: `We’re a Christian school, and we believe in second chances. So I’m willing to let you use the gym.’’
But would enough kids come? More important, would parents let their kids come? From the beginning, as the word quickly grew, kids came to the basketball school “A Hoop Dream With Chris Herren’’.
At my camps there are only four rules: encourage each other, no bullying, no laughing at one another, don’t make anyone feel less than you are. I never walked across the lines of a basketball court in my life without feeling stress, and there’s no way I’m going to let that happen to my kids. I want kids to have a good memory of the workout or camp to learn the game, learn what being on a team means, learn something about basketball.
The training team expanded over the years, but the court rules remained the same. Everyone is welcome, everyone is someone and everyone has something to learn. 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.