Every Bears fan remembers when Lovie Smith contacted colorful nickel back D.J. Moore back in September to reprimand Moore for criticizing teammate Jay Cutler after his sideline antics against the Packers.
Yet a call later that month changed Moore's life even more profoundly but made less news and more impact. Moore had been waiting on it for several long, hard years. On the other end was his mom, Doris Moore, a woman with a history of drug abuse who always resisted her middle son's efforts to convince her she needed rehab.
"One day she finally called me and said, 'I'm ready, I'll do it,''' D.J. said. "I didn't want to lose our family. It's best when the person that needs help recognizes it. That's the most important part of this.''
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D.J. had moved his mom to Chicago two years ago to escape the familiar temptations back home in South Carolina where she had become addicted to crack cocaine. His intentions were better than the results. Doris lapsed in and out of dangerous, self-destructive habits and, no matter how D.J. introduced the idea of involving professionals, she found excuses to delay the inevitable.
"I would tell her, 'This is affecting everybody,''' D.J. said. "She would get defensive and say stuff like, 'I'm trying, I'm not smoking as much.' She might say she'd try a facility but be out as quick as possible. This time seemed different.''
This time, D.J. vowed to take advantage of the unfamiliar resolve he heard in his mom's voice — but how? As D.J. pondered options, he remembered the powerful preseason message about overcoming addiction a former NBA player delivered to the Bears at Halas Hall. Chris Herren, who once met his drug dealer in his full Celtics uniform outside an arena minutes before a game, had established The Herren Project, a non-profit foundation that assists people struggling with addiction. Moore tracked Herren down to share his story and seek advice.
"He reached out to me and asked if I had any options,'' Herren recalled over the phone. "I said, 'We're going to make options.' Not every (addict) gets it the first time. Not everybody gets it the 20th time. But as long as they're alive, they are worth the chance.''
Herren speaks from experience. A high school phenom who landed at Fresno State after getting kicked out of Boston College for marijuana and cocaine use, Herren, 37, spent a decade addicted to heroin. His heart once stopped from an overdose. He got high before his mother's funeral. Lucky to be alive, Herren occasionally woke up in alleys or the side of the road.
By June 2008, when Herren finally sought help after realizing his wife and three kids would be better off without him, he had no money to pay for it. Then Chris Mullin, Herren's friend and NBA mentor, intervened. Mullin, himself a recovering alcoholic, paid for Herren's nine-month stay at a rehabilitation facility, saving his life and planting a seed.
"Once I got sober, I made it my mission to make those calls for people who couldn't help themselves,'' said Herren, who has stayed clean since.
Doris Moore is one of those people. In the week it took Herren and his foundation to get Doris into a treatment center in North Carolina, D.J. fretted. The longer they waited, the more D.J. wondered if his mom would go through with it.
"Normally in that time she would change her mind,'' D.J. said. "But she didn't. Thank goodness she went.''
On Wednesday, Doris checked out of the facility and returned to Columbia, S.C., with daughter Janell Boyce after a successful stint that made the family more optimistic than ever about her recovery. D.J. feels so grateful for the way Herren helped his mom that he wanted to do something positive for someone; so he bought tickets for five underprivileged students from Corliss High School at Sunday's Bears-Packers game.
They will see the defense count on Moore as much as the Bears have in awhile because of the deep Packers receiving corps and cornerback Tim Jennings' injury. Moore has been healthy but oddly played in only two of the last five games. But of all the things on Moore's mind, doubts about his ability never entered it.
"I didn't really lose confidence, I just wasn't playing,'' Moore said. "It didn't really make sense to me but I made sure I didn't see it as a negative. I have a pregnant wife and my mom was in rehab. I had enough to worry about.''
He has a little less now. When Moore spoke with his mom Thursday, her biggest concern was what Christmas gifts to buy for her grandkids.
Try telling D.J. Moore his football season has been disappointing.