Another memoir from a gifted athlete who traded on-court success for a needle in the arm.
The story of Herren, a Massachusetts high-school basketball legend who scored a dream gig with his hometown Boston Celtics, is all-too familiar. With the help of Providence Journal-Bulletin sports columnist Reynolds (Rise of a Dynasty: The ’57 Celtics, the First Banner, and the Dawning of a New America, 2010), Herren offers an unflinching look at a life of wasted potential, submitting his undiagnosed ADD, pressure from family and community and hereditary substance-abuse issues as mitigating factors, but manfully assuming full responsibility for his actions. He shows the frightening ease with which an athlete flush with game and cash can not only live a life of excess, but conceal his addiction from employers, teammates and friends. In painful detail, he recounts one horrific episode after another, from getting kicked off the Boston College team to blowing thousands of dollars a day on painkillers to, high on heroin, passing out on his way to buy donuts for his kids and being resuscitated by police. After burning countless bridges while his professional career sputtered in increasingly obscure foreign outposts, he finally hit rock-bottom in a rehab facility when, deprived of drugs and cut off from his long-suffering wife, the thought of not being able to raise his children gave him the strength to fight his way to sobriety. He rejoined his family, found gainful employment and started a thriving basketball academy and educational-speaking business. Metaphorical hoops junkies may find the paucity of game action disappointing, but Reynolds's work in fleshing out the contextual details and Herren’s self-eviscerating forthrightness make this a worthwhile read.
Nothing that hasn’t been written before, but told with such bluntness and heart that you can’t help but root for Herren to stay clean.