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At basketball-crazy Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, junior guard Chris Herren carried his family’s and his 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.
"Chris Herren's Basketball Junkie is the story of what happens when a town and a family pressure a favorite son to embody their dreams, which turn out to be his nightmare. If a book can be both anguished and celebratory, this is it. Herren's account of his descent into hell and back show that beyond the bench pressing and the sprints and all the other prep work that help to create an athlete, in the end, character-building is the one drill that really matters."—Madeleine Blais, New York Times bestselling author of In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle
"What a story. If you read a sports book—no, any book—that sticks in your head longer than Basketball Junkie this year please let me know. This was a walk down a long, dark street to places that most of us have never been. Who knew there was a regulation basketball court in the ninth circle of hell? Fascinating."—Leigh Montville, New York Times bestselling author of Ted Williams and Evel: The High Flying Life of Evel Knievel
"Herren . . . has written a chilling book."—Gary Washburn, The Boston Globe
"I really couldn't put Basketball Junkie down . . . a fascinating book, a tale of our times. It is the story of a man who survived fame, drug addiction, and a host of hometown enablers. It is a story of every kid's dream turning into a nightmare."—Bob Kerr, The Providence Journal
"Dark and riveting."—Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports
"Mesmerizing . . . Remarkable."—Sporting News
"An affecting and harrowing memoir."—Tim Bross, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"An unflinching look at a life of wasted potential . . . told with such bluntness and heart that you can’t help but root for Herren to stay clean."—Kirkus Review
CHRIS HERREN is a former NBA basketball player for the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics. His company, Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren, Inc., provides basketball training for young players as well as educational talks. He lives in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Chris Herren is the founder of Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren, a basketball player development company; the author of Basketball Junkie; and a public speaker with the American Program Bureau.
BILL REYNOLDS is a sports columnist for The Providence Journal and the author of several previous books, including