I was one of tallest players in NBA history but was banned – I opened a chicken shop and now do very ordinary day job

CHRIS Washburn is widely regarded as one of the biggest busts in the history of the NBA.

The former Golden State Warriors center, 57, struggled with drug addiction and received a lifetime ban from the NBA in 1989.

Chris Washburn played just two years in the NBA before being banned for life

Chris Washburn played just two years in the NBA before being banned for lifeCredit: Getty

The former Golden State Warrior failed multiple drug tests and was in prison soon after leaving the league

The former Golden State Warrior failed multiple drug tests and was in prison soon after leaving the leagueCredit: Getty
Washburn was the No.3 overall pick in the 1986 Draft and was tipped to be a star in San Francisco.

Standing 6ft 11in and tipping the scales at 225lbs, the athletic center had shown promise with the NC State Wolfpack in college.

However, just weeks into his time with the Warriors things started to unravel.

Washburn had received a suspended prison sentence in college for stealing a stereo and had begun to experiment with drugs, per WCNC.

But despite Washburn’s chequered past, Warriors coach George Karl decided to take a punt on his talent.

He told SI: “We saw this 6’11” guy with talent. We had to take him. And I think he’ll be a good player, maybe, in three years. If he works. If he changes.

“But sometimes I wonder if we drafted the kind of player who will always break your heart.

“He did great for three weeks in camp. Then it was like somebody got in his head and told him he didn’t have to work anymore.”

Washburn was rewarded with a hefty deal in California, signing a three-year, $3million contract with Golden State.

His time with the Warriors would be plagued by injury, with the center playing just 72 games over the next two seasons.

He averaged just 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game across his brief NBA career, which featured a short cameo with the Atlanta Hawks in 1989.

Later that year, he was banned from the NBA after failing three drug tests.

Per Sports Casting, Washburn’s life would spiral out of control after leaving basketball and he was in and out of rehab 14 times.

He would live in abandoned buildings, even eating out of trash cans, per SportingNews.

While the former NBA star went to prison in the early 1990s for drug-related offenses, completing his fall from grace.

He told the Brown and Scoop podcast in 2016: “My lowest came when I was in prison.

“They asked me to play on the prison basketball team. I left the NBA where the hardwood floors are polished.

“I could look up in the stands and see thousands of people looking good. Now, I’m on a prison bench.

“We’re playing on concrete. I also have six cheerleaders that are men.

“I wasn’t even starting in the damn penitentiary. I was coming off the bench.”

After leaving prison, Washburn played sporadically in the U.S. Basketball League and for several teams abroad.

He kicked his drug habit and finally went clean on June 17, 2000, per Yahoo Sports.

In 2011, he opened a fried chicken business in his hometown of Hickory, North Carolina.

Washburn opened the shop alongside his girlfriend Monique Richardson, but it closed in 2013.

His sons Chris and Julian both enjoyed promising college basketball careers.

While Washburn now works as a motivational speaker, helping NBA rookies to avoid the mistakes he made as a younger man.

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