Former Boston Celtics player makes impact at prison

Jun 05, 2014
Photo by: Maine Department of Corrections Chris Herron, third from left, visits Maine State Prison to discuss drug addiction. Herron is speaking to Maine State Prison Deputy Warden of Programs Michael Tausek.

Warren — Former Boston Celtics member Chris Herron visited Maine State Prison in last week to share his story of a years’ long, to-hell-and-back "nightmare" of drug addiction.

Now in his sixth drug-free year, Herron runs The Herron Project, a nonprofit with a mission "to provide assistance in taking the first steps toward recovery and a life of sobriety, educational programs and resources to increase awareness on the signs of addiction and bring hope for a better tomorrow."

Sixty to 65 prisoners sat silent on plastic chairs while Herron spoke. Then Herron was flooded with prisoners’ questions during the Q&A session; questions which stopped only when the clock ran out on the presentation.

One prisoner, standing at the back of the room, captured the overall mood of the event, the questions.

The prisoner spoke directly to Herron.

"Yeah, I just have a statement to make. The day you came back to Boston I was sitting in Jake's [with] mostly guys from the New Bedford area, Fall River, Brockton. And we said, little Chris Herron came back to Boston. Now we got a really lot of reason to go watch the Celtics play.

"I've known you since you was 12 years old. I've known your brother Mikey. The reason I want to tell you this is because when you was growing up a lot of guys said to me, they said, 'Yo, boss. Mikey's little brother is going to be somebody someday." And I was, "Nah. He's too small. He's not going to grow no bigger than me.'

“Then as I continued to watch your career, and then the things that happened to you.... I'm telling these stories because I'm from your area. We know each other. And it crushed me, y'know, it crushed me with all that happened to you.

"I was proud of you, man. I was going around saying that, 'We got one. We got one that came from the south coast, the southeastern part of Massachusetts....

"Now I see you today. Different story. And what impressed me most about your speech today is the fact that — 'cause I know your transition from when you came up to how you came into now — is that your story today is so much more powerful than I ever heard. And I'm proud of that.

“I just want to tell you, Chris, I'm sorry that I'm here. I wish I was home.

"But I just wanted to tell you, man, I'm proud of you. I'm glad that you've taken the time to share your story. And if anyone in this room is not moved by this story then something's wrong. Because I'm sitting here looking at you today, man, and I got tears in my eyes. Because I know you. And I just want to tell you, man, I love you, man. I'm proud of you. Just keep giving your story, man. Because it's something that needs to be heard, that has to go out. I just want to let you know that."

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