Basketball Junkie Comes Clean in New Memoir

By Kenneth Garger and Walter Armstrong 05/18/11

Former Celtics star Chris Herren scores with stunning straight talk.

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Herren's hoop dreams ended in heroin. Photo via

Former NBA star Chris Herren reached his lifelong goal of playing hoops as a pro, only to foul out due to an escalating addiction to booze, coke, and smack. Now Herron enters the addiction-memoir fray with Basketball Junkie, which hits stores this week. Co-authored with Bill Reynolds, a Providence Journal sportswriter who penned a previous book about the hometown basketball sensation, Fall River Dreams, Herren’s memoir has garnered raves as a pull-no-punches account of the 35-year-old’s rise, fall, and redemption in the fiercely competitive sports world.

A six-foot-three guard, Herren was a standout college player in the mid-’90s, first at Boston College and then at Fresno State. But injuries sidelined the driven athlete, and his hard partying off-court led to an early dependence on a one-two punch of alcohol plus painkillers. While his impressive play and natural gifts drew national attention, the pressure and other temptations got to Herren, leading to a damaging FBI investigation alleging point-shaving on his part. After a stint in rehab, Herren was drafted as a rookie by the Denver Nuggets in 1999. 

Within a year, Herren was living the dream of every New England hoopster—playing for the Boston Celtics. But a season-ending injury sent him spiralling downward into drink and drugs, and his career crashed and burned for good in 2004 when he was found unconscious in his car, a heroin needle in his arm. By then he was a husband and father, and Basketball Junkie recounts in unsparing detail the toll his addiction took on his family until he fought his way to freedom in 2008.

Herren now trains and mentors young talents in his new player-development company, Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren Inc. To read an excerpt from the book, check out Slam.com.

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