Chris Herren: A Story to Remember

Emilija Sagaityte

We are perfect just the way we are.

Although this saying may be repeated a little too often, it should be our mentality every second of every day. As a school community, we were all reminded of this on January 13th when former NBA member Chris Herren came to Radnor High School and told his compelling life story full of loss and regret, but more importantly contained a message – one that he believes should be shared with others and that those at the middle and high school got the privilege to hear.

Despite Herren’s astounding athletic skills, his success was cut short. In the end, it wasn’t an injury from practice, another basketball player, or another team that brought him down. Instead, it was his addiction to drugs and alcohol that had started when he was just in high school. During the weeks before the assembly, several health classes watched the 30 for 30 about his history, but Herren’s presentation didn’t just focus on what had happened him.

Chris Herren took an alternate approach on the topic by appealing to students’ everyday lives. He told engaging accounts of boys and girls who were courageous enough to stand up to peers who had turned to drugs and alcohol.

More sorrowful stories involved children who had lost their lives due to overdosing. Overall, these stories made his presentation more meaningful and personal than statistics, facts, and instructions in a slide show.

Herren’s continual focus on confidence and self worth caught the interest of many students and teachers for its novelty. All the prior assemblies I have sat through took the same approach: explaining the dangers of addiction and then telling people that they shouldn’t use drugs and alcohol. However, Herren took it a step further and tied in the idea of mental health to addiction. He explained how one reason why many teenagers may decide to start drinking is to fit in when they are out socializing with their friends. Consequently, it is important that children always learn to be have confidence in themselves. Elevated self-confidence can lead not only to more smiles but also to less danger and healthier lives.

Furthermore, Herren took the time to address those who don’t drink or use drugs. He admitted that even though he and his friends used to laugh at peers who chose not to party, non-users are truly the the ones to look up to. He then made it even more personal for all the students in the audience by discussing younger siblings. He suggested everyone ask themselves if they were good role models for their  brothers and sisters. Herren also told those who had friends that drink or use drugs to help those people and convince them to do otherwise.

Therefore, Herren certainly left an impact on our high school community. Though an assembly may not guarantee students immunity from mistakes, Herren’s presentation was undoubtedly worthwhile. Between the moments of contemplation, somber silence, and occasional fall of a tear, the power of Herren’s talk could be observed for the entire hour and a half. The emotion also inhabited the halls following the assembly, as students and teachers discussed what they had heard. Many were captivated by his words and will carry them around for years to come. Herren reminded us of a truth that will help us lead healthier, happier, and fuller lives: we are perfect just the way we are.