BLACKSBURG, Va. - In the first game of a three-game series with Virginia on Friday evening at English Field, the Virginia Tech baseball team has planned a “Purple Out” and will be wearing special purple jerseys to help raise awareness against substance abuse. Former NBA basketball player Chris Herren will throw out the first pitch before the 5:30 p.m. start.
Herren established The Herren Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation that assists individuals and families struggling with addiction. One of its initiatives is Project Purple, which was launched to break the stigma of addiction, bring awareness to the dangers of substance abuse and shed light on effective treatment practices.
“What better guy to come give the message of being an elite athlete and seeing his life devastated because of drugs and alcohol than Chris Herren,” Tech baseball coach Pete Hughes said. ”Growing up in New England, you know who Chris Herren is. He’s, arguably, the best high school basketball player ever in Massachusetts.
“He was such a great player, and then we were all a witness to his fall from grace almost to death because of drugs. I watched the ‘30-for-30’ with my kids and it was just unbelievable. So I just got in touch with his foundation, and they got back to me right away. He wanted to help us out.”
As part of a 19 Ways project, and partnered with Herma’s Readers, Herren was invited to the Tech campus back in February and spoke to Virginia Tech student-athletes as well as invited neighboring high school athletes. After the event, Hughes honored Herren with a special purple Hokies’ jersey and told him about an upcoming planned “Purple Out”.
“I shot for the moon because I knew he was the best speaker out there for this subject, and I knew he’d have an immediate impact on our people,” Hughes said. “And then we opened the venue up because why not open this up to all of our athletes. This is too good of a resource to not have everyone exposed to it
“Then, we decided to help promote the Project Purple message even further by having this game, and when he got that jersey, he said ‘I’m coming back for that game. It’s the first one ever in our foundation and I’m coming for that game and throwing out the first pitch.’”
The “Purple Out” game is another event of the 2012-13 baseball team’s 19 Ways, a program introduced by Hughes to his team in 2010 to find 19 ways to make a difference in the community. The team has again invited all local high school athletes to attend Friday’s game and is asking all fans to wear purple to show their support of the Project Purple campaign against substance abuse.
The Hokies’ purple jerseys they wear on Friday night will then be auctioned off online starting on Saturday. A portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to help support Project Purple. More information on the auction will be available later on hokiesports.com.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).