Former NBA player Chris Herren will speak about the dangers of substance abuse on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m. at Lehighton Area High School Auditorium.

Herren's battles with substance abuse are the subject of ESPN's documentary "Unguarded." The film covers his rise, fall, and redemption both on and off the court.

"The topic of the dangers of substance abuse is one often covered in health classes throughout our area," said Lehighton Area High School Assistant Principal Daniel Repsher. "However, we hope that the message from a nationally-recognized athlete who has battled addiction first-hand will be heard loud and clear."

Herren is a central figure in Providence Journal columnist Bill Reynolds' book about the Fall River, Massachusetts Durfee High School basketball team's 1992-93 season entitled "Fall River Dreams." He started his collegiate career at Boston College, but left after one year to join Jerry Tarkanian's Fresno State team.

After college, Herren was selected by the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft. A 6'2" guard, he played for the Nuggets and the Boston Celtics during his NBA career.

In December 2004, Herren was charged with possession of heroin and driving under the influence with a revoked license. After completing intensive rehabilitation programs, he has been drug-free since June 4, 2008 and sober since August 1, 2008.

In June 2009, Herren launched Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren – a basketball player development company that mentors players both on and off the court. In addition, he established the foundation The Herren Project in 2011 as a way to assist young addicts through the recovery process. As a result of the popularity of his story, Herren is a sought-after motivational speaker – having appeared before audiences as diverse as students, fellow athletes, and prisoners.Last year, Herren teamed with Reynolds to write his book entitled "Basketball Junkie: A Memoir."

Herren's presentation at LAHS is a project of Lehighton Area Drug and Alcohol Task Force – which brings together schools, community, and local law enforcement in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of substance abuse.

Tickets for the event are available for purchase at Mallard Markets in Lehighton, Mauch Chunk Pharmacy in Jim Thorpe, and Valley Athletic Supply in Lansford.

In addition, the task force is looking to partner with individuals, businesses, and other organizations to raise awareness of the dangers of substance abuse through this event. Benefits of sponsorship include a meet-and-greet with Herren, reserved seating at the event, and recognition in the program. For more information about partnerships, contact Repsher at 610-377-6180 or DRepher@Lehighton.org.

"I think Chris's message is a powerful and one that our community needs to hear," summed up Repsher.