I was dead for thirty seconds. That's what the cop in Fall River told me. When the EMTs found me, there was a needle in my arm and a packet of heroin in the front seat. At basketball-crazy Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, junior guard Chris Herren carried his family's and the 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 aSports Illustratedcover story, and at just seventeen years old became the central figure inFall 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.
In this blunt, self-deprecating memoir, Herren tells his story as one of the greatest high school athletes to come out of southern New England. Fall River, Mass., has a storied basketball tradition, and Herren's achievements on the court made him a local hero as well as bringing him to the attention of national recruiters and Sports Illustrated. Overwhelmed by expectations, Herren avoided school and abused drugs and alcohol. Although Herren managed to make it to the NBA, his life continued to spin out of control until he OD'd in his car and was found unconscious with a bag of heroin on the seat beside him. Herren offers explanations for his downfall but doesn't make excuses. Neither does he glorify the partying and excess that made his life a blur. What he does achieve is something more valuable: giving a stark portrayal of the surreal existence led by young sports stars in a world of rapacious agents, vicious rivals, oblivious fans, and educational institutions that enable their "student" athletes to get away with almost anything. In the end, this is a sobering, cautionary tale for star-athletes-to-be. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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St. Martin's Press
May 09, 2011
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