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Against All Hope: Former NBA Star Chris Herren on Addiction, Sobriety & Service

By November 16, 2023No Comments
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Episode #794



This is one of the most powerful conversations on the subject of addiction and redemption I’ve been honored to host in the eleven year history of this show.

Left untreated, addiction decimates everything in its path. I’ve lived through it. I’ve borne witness to its wrath in countless others. And I’ve walked the wreckage it inevitably reaps. But my story pales in comparison to what Chris Herren has endured—and survived to now share in service of helping others.

Lauded as one of the greatest basketball players of his generation before he even graduated high school, Chris graced the cover of Sports Illustrated during his freshman year playing point guard for Boston College. Ousted courtesy of his outsized partying led him west to Fresno State, where he flourished for a flash under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian, leading to stints in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics. It didn’t last (it never does) so he took his game across the European and Asian circuits, a ticking time-bomb awaiting detonation.

Basketball simply couldn’t compete with alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. So it wasn’t long before Chris’ nightmare turned him into into roadkill—an overdose he barely survived that would, inelegantly and eventually, lead to a rebirth and redemption.

“Recovery is the greatest accomplishment of my life. It has nothing to do with basketball.”


What has transpired in the 14 years since Chris got sober is a remarkable, phoenix-like journey of recovery and redemption that has transformed his life from utterly craven to one of extraordinary purpose, meaning, and selfless service as a leading voice on the topic of substance use prevention.

Through Herren Talks, Chris has spoken to over one million students, athletes and community members, sparking honest discussions on the topics of substance use disorder and wellness, while also challenging audiences to rethink wholesale how we look at the disease of addiction—changing focus from the last day to the first.

Through The Herren Project and Herren Wellness, Chris furthers his mission through recovery services and in-patient treatment to those in need.

His recovery journey has been documented in the bestselling memoir, Basketball Junkie, the Emmy-nominated ESPN Films documentary, Unguarded, and in countless local, national and international stories by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, and many others.

In a potent round of what happened, what it was like, and what it’s like now, today Chris shares his story with laudable courage and vulnerability—a testament to the power of transformation and the unwavering belief that no matter how far we may fall, we can always rise again.

The visually inclined can watch it all go down on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

If you are suffering from some form of addiction, this episode is a must-listen. Even if you’re not an addict, I encourage you to embrace this conversation as a means to better understand the affliction, as chances are you probably know someone in need of help.

Note: This conversation traverses difficult emotional terrain. If you are struggling, please raise your hand and reach out for help. You can find information about Alcoholics Anonymous (and meetings near you) at and Narcotics Anonymous at You can also contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, know you’re not alone. I encourage you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1(800) 273-TALK.

I sincerely hope you prioritize this important conversation.

Peace + Plants,

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Thank The Team: I do not do this alone. Send your love to Jason Camiolo for audio engineering, production, show notes and interstitial music; with additional audio engineering by Cale Curtis and additional music by Moby; Blake Curtis & Dan Drake for video, & editing; graphics by Jessica Miranda & Daniel Solis; portraits by Davy Greenberg, Grayson Wilder & Gizelle Peters; video clips for social media are created by AJ Akpodiete; copywriting by Georgia Whaley; and theme music by Tyler Piatt, Trapper Piatt & Hari Mathis.

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