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I was dead for thirty seconds.
That's what the cop in Fall River told me.
When the EMTs found me, there was a needle in my arm and a packet
of heroin in the front seat.
At basketball-crazy Durfee High School in Fall River,
Massachusetts, junior guard Chris Herren carried his family's and
the city's dreams on his skinny frame. His grandfather, father,
and older brother had created their own sports legends in a
declining city; he was the last, best hope for a career beyond
the shuttered mills and factories. Herren was heavily recruited
by major universities, chosen as a McDonald's All-American,
featured in a Sports Illustrated cover story, and at just
seventeen years old became the central figure in Fall River
Dreams, an acclaimed book about the 1994 Durfee team's quest for
the state championship.
Leaving Fall River for college, Herren starred on Jerry
Tarkanian's Fresno State Bulldogs team of talented misfits, which
included future NBA players as well as future convicted felons.
His gritty, tattooed, hip-hop persona drew the ire of rival fans
and more national attention: Rolling Stone profiled him, 60
Minutes interviewed him, and the Denver Nuggets drafted him. When
the Boston Celtics acquired his contract, he lived the dream of
every Massachusetts kid―but off the court Herren was secretly
crumbling, as his alcohol and drug use escalated and his life
spiraled out of control.
Twenty years later, Chris Herren was married to his high-school
sweetheart, the father of three young children, and a heroin
junkie. His basketball career was over, consumed by addictions;
he had no job, no skills, and was a sadly familiar figure to
those in Fall River who remembered him as a boy, now prowling the
streets he once ruled, looking for a fix. One day, for a time he
cannot remember, he would die.
In his own words, Chris Herren tells how he nearly lost
everything and everyone he loved, and how he found a way back to
life. Powerful, honest, and dramatic, Basketball Junkie is a
remarkable memoir, harrowing in its descent, and heartening in