Sharing lessons learned
The weight of addiction
Popwin was one of hundreds of Nashua freshmen who on Wednesday had the opportunity to listen to Herren speak about his use of cocaine, OxyContin and heroin that ultimately led to a downward spiral and near suicide attempt.
Popwin plays basketball herself, and someday hopes to be drafted by the Women’s National Basketball Association. She said Herren’s fate, brought on by a series of bad choices, made her realize the importance of staying clean.
Herren, a Massachusetts native, has struggled with drug use since he was first accepted at Boston College to play basketball in 1994. His time there, however, was short-lived after he was kicked off the team for repeatedly failing mandatory drug tests.
“It took 14 years to walk away from that one line,” said Herren, who eventually lost his scholarship at Boston College and moved to play ball at Fresno State in California.
While going through withdrawal from the OxyContin, Herren said he was traded to the Boston Celtics — a lifelong dream that felt like a nightmare because he couldn’t kick the habit.
Two years later, when Herren was playing professional ball in Italy and couldn’t find any pills, he tried heroin and quickly became an intravenous drug addict, he told the students. He shared stories of car accidents, arrests, a suicide attempt and sleeping on the streets while his children back home lived without their father.
Herren is five years sober and travels throughout the country sharing his story of professional basketball success turned failure because of a small pill that cost him $20.
“In our struggles, you’ll find strength,” said Herren.
Thomas Joyce, a freshman at Nashua High School South, said Herren’s speech was inspiring. Joyce said the message will stay with him a long time.
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