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All boarding, grades 9-12 in Alexandria, Virginia

Former NBA Star Inspires Students to Make Healthy Choices

On January 17, 2018, students, faculty, and members of the community gathered in Pendleton Hall to welcome speaker Chris Herren, who spoke about the impact that drug and alcohol addiction had on his career and personal life.
Chris Herren was a high school basketball phenom hailing from Fall River, Massachusetts, who scored over 2,000 career points and was named to the 1994 McDonald's All-American team. Herren realized his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA only to lose it all to the nightmare of drug addiction—first alcohol, then cocaine and oxycontin, and finally heroin.

Alcohol and drug-free since August 1, 2008, Herren, who played for the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, has refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all else. He shares his harrowing story of abuse and recovery in his memoir, Basketball Junkie, as well as in numerous interviews throughout the Emmy nominated ESPN Films documentary Unguarded, of which he is the subject.

Off the court, Chris Herren continues to share his story with audiences in the hopes of reaching just one person and making a difference in his or her life. To support this vision, he founded The Herren Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing treatment navigation, educational, and mentoring programs to those touched by addiction and to educate people of all ages on the dangers of substance abuse one person and one family at a time.

Herren’s presentation to the entire Episcopal student body on a cold evening in January resulted in an overwhelming response from students and has generated productive conversations and high levels of engagement from the community.

"Chris Herren is the most impactful speaker on this subject I’ve seen in 36 years of teaching," said Assistant Head for Student Life Doug Dickson. "His message will allow us to engage in different and new ways and open up the conversation to allow students the opportunity to be vulnerable and work together towards improving themselves and the community.”

Director of Counseling Kristin Hosmer added, “Chris Herren's presentation has generated a conversation that is gaining traction with our students in a way we haven't seen before. It was incredibly powerful, and he was able to make it OK to share your struggle, whatever it may be, and to ask for help. We are hearing from students that they heard that message, and they are feeling empowered to talk with each other and with the adults in their lives about their authentic selves.”

Lilly Wilcox '18 emphasized the impact of the presentation on the students. "I have never seen everyone so engaged for a drug and alcohol presentation before," she said. "Students were eager to ask questions, and we all left silent, reflecting on Mr. Herren’s powerful message. It was a really special moment in the community."
For more information about Herren's life and his foundation: 
Unguarded (ESPN 30 for 30 documentary): https://vimeo.com/79305689
The Herren Project: http://thpprojectpurple.org/the-project/

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