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I chose Curry because I really enjoyed the campus feel, I felt safe there. I also looked at the students and I saw me. I felt like I could relate to them. I felt comfortable and that was really important-just fitting in.

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Fall River Basketball Legend Chris Herren Speaks to Curry Students about Addiction

April 19, 2012


Former NBA basketball star Chris Herren is on a mission to encourage students of all ages to avoid drugs and alcohol, by taking the time to visit high schools and colleges across the country to share his personal tale of addiction. Recently, he stopped by Curry College to inspire the next generation of students and athletes to make the right decision the first time around.

"The reality is, you guys are the future," said Herren, addressing a large crowd from center court at Curry College's Student Center Gymnasium in the Spring of 2012.

Herren's rise to stardom on the basketball court as a member of the Boston Celtics from 2000-2001, quickly turned foul, when shooting up become more important than shooting hoops. He said that he vaguely remembers the journey he took from his hometown of Fall River to the Fleet Center, simply because he spent the majority of his best years in a cloud induced by drugs and alcohol. Herren told the crowd that his life spiraled out of control simply because he did not think twice about the consequences of his actions, and because he could not admit that he had a problem.

"One bad choice can open a door that can be hard to close," said Lamar Phillips '15, who introduced Herren at the special event. "As college students, we don't always look at things down the road, but I think his story will make a lot of people think about the situation they are in and the choices they make."

"Unguarded," the ESPN Films documentary that premiered in November of 2011, chronicles Herren's life as a basketball player turned drug addict. It reveals the poor decisions he made throughout his basketball career, and in his personal life as a husband and father of three. It also shines a light on the turning points of his life, which he highlights to educate young people who have yet to make the wrong decision.

Andrew Charles Veilleux, a senior on the Curry College Baskeball Team, said that he was inspired to hear Herren's story after watching the documentary.

"He is such an iconic basketball player. It is impressive to see the recovery he made. This is definitely something that all athletes should hear," said Veilleux, who was in the company of many other Curry athletes at the event.

The Curry College R.A.G.E. (Raising Awareness through Group Education) Peer Educators were responsible for bringing Herren to campus.  Curry's Alcohol Wellness Educator Emilie Clucas said that she knew his message would resonate with a large number of students, since Herren's addiction started during his college years.

"We really hope his message will focus strongly on safe choices, because that can mean different things to different students. It's not what is right or wrong, good or bad; it is about what is safe for each individual student," said Clucas.

R.A.G.E. typically invites speakers on campus to send a message to students about the power of the choices that they are faced with in life.  Zellie Hackett '15 collected tickets at the door, and said that she is proud to be part of a group that inspires students to be safe.

"We want to show people that decisions have consequences, and that sometimes the people you look up to aren't perfect," said Hackett, who also helps the group to run t-shirt campaigns across campus.

Following his talk, Herren was bombarded with students who simply wanted to thank him for telling his story. They said that he inspired them to think about the opportunities they have as students, and the dreams that can only come to fruition if they keep their head the game.

Curry College Baseball Captain Matt Drew '12 hopped in a picture with Herren and the rest of his teammates following the talk. Though the snapshot will be a small souvenir of the evening, Drew says the advice that the former athlete selflessly passed along is the thing that will stay with him.

"His story was incredible. Speeches like this can really change someone's life, and hopefully Chris talking can motivate someone to quit early enough so that they don't have to go through what he went through."


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