Former NBA draft pick speaks at SUNY Oswego

Chris Herren speaks at Oswego State on Wednesday.

Chris Herren speaks at Oswego State on Wednesday.

OSWEGO, NY – Former NBA draft pick Chris Herren paid a visit to Oswego State to talk to students about substance abuse on Wednesday evening in the Marano Campus Center Arena.  The subject of his speech was a problem Herren battled throughout his collegiate and professional careers.

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Chris Herren speaks at Oswego State on Wednesday.

In front of nearly all of Oswego’s 450 student-athletes, along with other members of the College’s student body, faculty and staff, Herren spoke about his struggles that ranged from alcohol and prescription painkillers to heroin.

After years of abusing substances, several overdoses and a myriad of other personal obstacles, Herren found sobriety that he has kept intact over the past six years.

“I do 250 of these speeches a year,” Herren said. “I say a prayer before each asking God for just one because if I can make a difference in just one person’s life that is sitting and listening to me, this is all worth it.”

The Fall River, Mass., native was brought to Oswego after senior Matt Wagenhauser of the track and field team and recent graduate Sammie Schroeter of the softball squad heard Herren speak at the NCAA Leadership Forum last year and were moved by his testimony.

“After hearing the feedback from Matt and Sammie, I knew we had to try and bring Chris to campus,” said Sue Witmer, the athletics department’s academic coordinator. “I am very happy that we were able to join with several groups across campus to get this event to Oswego.”

Herren spoke to those gathered in the arena for more than  an hour and answered several questions from the audience at the end of his talk.

“It was an intense speech,” said Jessie Terrano, a senior on the softball team. “You could tell everyone was completely focused on him and it was by far the most influential speaker I’ve heard throughout high school and college.”

Terrano’s fellow senior classmate, Nick Reinsdorf from the track and field team said, “Chris’ openness to share his nightmare with us was amazing. When he asked us if we were the role model we would want to have, it really made us think about how we could improve in our daily lives.”