Chris Washburn Understands Need for Alcohol and Drug Prevention Classes

by Mike Miller June 3, 2013

There are far too many stories about athletes whose careers were destroyed by drugs and alcohol. There are far too few stories of their redemption. Chris Washburn’s is a story of redemption.

Washburn, who had dedicated more than a decade of his life to getting high, had never felt so low. The former basketball standout — one of the most highly recruited high-school athletes in North Carolina history — sat quietly with a crack pipe in his hand, a .44 Magnum pistol in his lap, and thoughts of suicide in his head. As reported in

He knew he was not able to get as high as he used to. He knew his basketball career was over. He knew that girls, who used to flood him, no longer returned his phone calls.

With these depressing thoughts filling his mind, Washburn cocked the trigger. This would be the way to end it all — quickly, painlessly. As he debated pulling the trigger, Washburn thought of his wife, who had not yet left him, despite what he had become. He thought of his four sons. He thought of his mother back home.

Rags to Riches Tale

Anybody who’s familiar with Chris Washburn knows his life story. It’s a cautionary, riches-to-rags tale of a teenager with freakish athleticism and seemingly unlimited potential who squandered it all in a drug-fueled spiral into oblivion.

A three-time high-school All-American, Washburn had college coaches drooling over him before he had even entered ninth grade.

His great career never happened. In his two years at North Carolina State University, Washburn enjoyed only one productive season on the court. Washburn’s substance abuse problems also intensified at State, when he progressed from drinking beer to smoking marijuana.

After two seasons, he left for the NBA, where the Golden State Warriors made him the third overall pick in the draft. In the NBA, though — with more freedom and more money to blow — Washburn gravitated more toward the drug culture than the basketball court.

Could preventative drug classes have helped Washburn? Would they have enabled him to steer clear of drugs and alcohol? None of us know the answer to that question. Undoubtedly Washburn wishes he had never experimented.

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