Chris Washburn doesn’t have to go far to be reminded of the dark days when he was a 6-foot-11 addict wandering the streets of his hometown looking for drugs.
As Washburn sits in the shade behind his recently opened restaurant on the fringes of downtown Hickory, he is able to briefly flash the gap-toothed grin that was so familiar to fans of Atlantic Coast Conference and N.C. State University basketball 25 years ago.
“I would sit right here and do my drugs,” says Washburn. “This was a good spot for it.”
In the mid-1990s, the building that now houses Washburn’s Wings and More offered a hiding place for Washburn to smoke crack cocaine. Washburn, whose promising professional basketball career was short-circuited by drug abuse, had returned to Hickory for a few years, shamelessly bumming money from his parents and others to fund his habit.
Washburn, 45, says he is drug free now; has been for 12 years. This time, he says, his focus is on running a business and helping his community.