Tuesday in Hawkville: Chris Herren’s powerful story

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 20:

FOCUS ON

Chris Herren

Chris Herren

Life lessons. In this Thanksgiving Day week, coach Pete Carroll had someone who is thankful to still be alive share his story with the players after practice on Monday.

The individual was Chris Herren, a former high school, college and NBA star who threw away his career – and almost his life – because of his addiction to drugs. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Herren’s he-must-be-making-this-up saga has been featured on “60 Minutes” and in “Unguarded,” a documentary which was part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. He also has written an autobiography, “Basketball Junkie.” You can click here to hear Herren discuss the reaction to his story.

Herren began his powerful presentation to the Seahawks’ players by saying what some where thinking: Why are we sitting here listening to this guy? The players didn’t come right out and say that, of course. They didn’t have to. Their body language spoke volumes.

But has Herren moved from one sobering segment of his story to another – detailing his downward spiral from “just drinking and smoking,” to using cocaine, to addiction to painkillers, to almost ending his life with a heroin overdose – the few players who started the session slumped into the seats first sat up and by the end were leaning forward in their chairs.

Family. Fame. Wealth. One opportunity for redemption after another. Herren wasted them all.

“Truth is I should be dead,” he said. “And being sober? Never thought it was a reality. I’d done so much I couldn’t imagine coming back from it. My life? It was bad, but with a lot of help I was able to turn it around.”

And that’s why Herren, who has been clean and sober since August of 2008, was asked to speak to the Seahawks: To warn them of how easily it is to plummet from the top of your chosen profession to below rock bottom; and also to inform them that there is help – for them, family members, friends.

Herren, 37, has started the Herren Project, which provides assistance and funds to help get addicts into rehab.

Quarterback Russell Wilson had heard Herren speak before. But the repeat performance still delivered the intended impact.

“Just to hear his story – and how powerful it is and all the things he’s gone through in his life – for him to stay so strong and just trust in the Lord, and him getting down on his knees and praying and that being able to save him from all the things he went through, that was pretty cool,” Wilson said. “The stories just keep going on and on. The fact that he could stand all that stuff and still be alive, it’s just a remarkable story.”

OPPONENT WATCH

The Dolphins. They practiced today, so the players can have Thanksgiving Day off. Coach Joe Philbin decided the shift from the normal schedule was doable because the Dolphins played last Thursday and are playing this week at home.

“Usually for a ‘normal’ game, you get three practices and a walkthrough,” Philbin said during his Monday news conference. “This one we’re going to get four practices and a walkthrough. Family is very important to me, it should be important to our players. I don’t think next year, if we’re on a seven-day schedule, we’d be able to afford this luxury. But I think when there’s a chance you can do something like this, I think you should do it.”

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks will play on a grass field only four times this season, and two of those will occur in their next two games – at Miami against the Dolphins on Sunday and at Chicago against the Bears next Sunday. They’ll also be looking to improve on their record while playing on a real-grass surface from their first two seasons under Carroll. Here’s a look at those grass-stained performances:

2012

Location (date)                                 Result

Carolina (Oct. 7)                                W, 16-12

San Francisco (Oct. 18)                    L, 13-6

Miami (Nov. 25)                                TBD

Chicago (Dec. 2)                                TBD

2011

Location (date)                                 Result

San Francisco (Sept. 11)                  L, 33-17

Pittsburgh (Sept. 18)                        L, 24-0

Cleveland (Oct. 23)                           L, 6-3

Chicago (Dec. 18)                              W, 38-14

2010

Location (date)                                 Result

Denver (Sept. 19)                             L, 31-14

Chicago (Oct. 17)                              W, 23-20

Oakland (Oct. 31)                             L, 33-3

San Francisco (Dec. 12)                   L, 40-21

Tampa (Dec. 26)                               L, 38-15

UP NEXT

The players had their “off” day on Tuesday, but quite a few were at VMAC continuing their jump on the week after a “Bonus Monday” practice. They will return to practice on “Competition Wednesday.”

Also, next week’s game against the Bears will remain a 10 a.m. PT kickoff. It was possible that the game could have been flexed into the Sunday night slot, but the league announced today that the evening game will remain the Eagles and Cowboys.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s pretty good. I think statistically, numbers-wise, it’s excellent. They can pressure the quarterback well. I think they have 28 sacks. They have explosive guys off the edge. I’ve always felt their inside tackle, 92 (Brandon Mebane), was a good player. (Free safety Earl) Thomas is a dynamic player. It’s a very good, well-coached defense.” – Philbin on the Seahawks defense


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