A story of redemption will be told this evening when ESPN releases "Unguarded," a documentary on the troubled life of former NBA player Chris Herren. The former Boston College and Fresno State star from Fall River, Mass., who went through a decade of alcohol and drug addiction and has recovered and remained close to the game as a mentor to players.
According to the Gainesville Sun, the Florida program is more than familiar with the story because coach Billy Donovan had Herren speak to the Gators for an hour and Herren also serves as a mentor to big man Erik Murphy.
Murphy's father, former Boston College and NBA forward Jay Murphy, approached Herren to mentor his son over the summer. Murphy was arrested last April with teammate Cody Larson outside of a bar in St. Augustine for allegedly trying to break into a car. As part of his plea deal on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges, Murphy underwent a substance abuse evaluation and cannot drink alcohol or use controlled substances for one year.
"I told Erik, if that's the worst mistake that he makes than he's lived a pretty good life," Herren said. "If he can turn this mistake around and use it for a positive, and I think Erik will, he will be great. Erik, I care about as a person more than a basketball player and I think he will handle this and learn from it.”
Murphy said he learned a great deal from Herren both on and off the court.
"He's been great with me, working-out wise and helping me out," Murphy said. "He had a lot of issues and then I had my little bump in the spring, too. So he's helped me out with that too, so has my family, coach, everybody else."
Murphy, a Rhode Island native, has been reinstated following his run-in with the law, and it should help him to hear from someone who has been at the very bottom. The 6-foot-10 junior could become a key contributor to a team that lost its starting frontcourt from last season.
The willingness for Murphy to mature is a good sign for Donovan, who once recruited Herren and is now hoping his words of wisdom can help the team.
For Herren, it's yet another positive thing he's doing after years of missteps. His redemption story continues to get better.