I love feel good sports movies. The Mighty Ducks and Remember the Titans get me every time, but let me tell you, last week my co-worker and I had our class watch the ESPN documentary “Unguarded,” and I was absolutely blown away.
The film is about a former basketball star, now one of the most inspirational guys I have ever seen, Chris Herren, and his battle with drug addiction. It covers extremely low points, vulnerable emotion and the difficulties for all involved in his recovery process.
If you have not heard of, or seen this film, please watch it ASAP. I caught myself literally crying at some portions, probably because I can totally relate to the premise, but also because listening to his family speak about their thoughts and feelings toward his destructive behaviors, just made me catch a small glimpse of what Ryan and the rest of my loved ones endured during the many years where I was so resistant to getting help.
Herren was a stud basketball player, scoring over 2,000 points in his high school career, playing division 1 in college, and getting drafted to the NBA. He was living the dream life in his early twenties but only “getting through it” by using mood alternating substances.
He shamefully describes one instance where he was standing outside The Celtics arena, getting ready to play his first game with the team, very close to his hometown, tons of friends and family in the stands, and he was outside in uniform, moments before the start, waiting for his drug dealer to bring him a fix.
He also discusses several very personal instances where he lied to his wife, kids, missed special occasions, blew all their money on drugs, sold her jewelry even though he was making thousands of dollars a month, just so he could fulfill the addiction that was controlling his life.
Every part of him describing how they may have appeared like a family when they were traveling the world for his sport, but that his mind was never actually present in those moments, completely resonated with the past four years of my existence.
I have mentioned this so many times in entries before but honestly when you are so deeply entrenched in your own addiction, nothing matters but how YOU feel.
“I didn’t run this morning….”
Well that meant I was extremely irritable and fidgeting around like a crazy person because my body was crying out for movement. Obviously my concentration was not focused on the people around me.
“Oh my gosh my lunch at the restaurant might have had some added butter….”
This translated to me not being able to remember a single conversation that was had at the table.
Do you see what I mean? If there was a slightly uncomfortable situation that I could not use symptomatic behaviors, my attention was completely focused on ME, making up for it later.
But back to the documentary…
I don’t want to tell you everything because I am seriously encouraging you to watch it, but the end made my heart melt. It gave me hope, lifted my spirits a bit, and showed that maybe the light that once was at the end of the tunnel and has slowly been diminishing these last few, very difficult weeks, might just rekindle again.
Even if you have never battled addiction, or aren’t a sports fan, you will totally be enthralled by Herren’s courage, the strength of those around him, and how even the darkest days can sometimes provide a rainbow.
Check it out. EPSN 2…Unguarded.