Starting Over Fresh: The Story Of Chris "Birdman" Andersen

Zach AmburgeyCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

DENVER - MAY 25:  Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets reacts in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

By now I'm sure most of you know the story behind the Denver Nuggets amped, vibrant, and most well-liked player.

Chris Andersen went through struggle after struggle.

He went from being suspended for drug use to becoming a star on one of the top teams in the NBA.

However, have you really took an in depth look into the story of a troubled man, who has now finally found his way back to the light?

It all began in his glory days while attending high school in Texas. As a high school-er he was considered a freakish athlete who could "get up".

He didn't really get all the recruiting pub that many other high-school athletes got and signed with Brinn College, a small two-year institute located in Brenham Texas.

Andersen had a solid stint at Brinn, and decided to enter his name into the NBA draft.

How likely is it to see a guy from Brinn College get drafted into any professional sport? Especially the NBA?

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Andersen went undrafted in 1999, but signed a contract to play in the Chinese Basketball League. He spent a year in China, then came back to the states to play in the NBDL. It wasn't likely to see a guy be called up from the NBDL to the NBA, but in 2001 Andersen's high-octane, in-your-face, electric play allowed him to be called up by the Denver Nuggets.

Andersen spent three years in Denver. He played in 154 games, starting three of them, and averaged only 3.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.

Andersen was known as a cocky, but energetic, player who didn't see a lot of minutes. He made the best of what he got, and played hard.

His time in Denver came to a short end in 2004. He was picked up by the New Orleans Hornets for the 2004-2005 season. He averaged career highs in points, 7.7, and assists, 1.1.

Andersen's play, long hair and tattoos were something Hornets' fans enjoyed. He remained in New Orleans for 2005-2006, having another solid year off the bench.

However, things were starting to be noticed about the Birdman. His ways, and how he carried himself. Many believed, including those close to him, drug abuse had been ongoing for sometime.

Finally, in the 2006-2007 season, Birdman was busted for violating the NBA's drug policy.

Andersen's world came crashing down, and he didn't let the people down that said he wouldn't make it as a pro. Andersen tried and tried to lower his suspension, but things never worked out. He was eligible for reinstatement in 2008.

Over his two-year ban, Andersen got things together.

He started living with a close friend and mentor of his in Denver. Andersen went into rehab, and began his recovery from drug abuse.

Many still believed Andersen could play again someday in the NBA, but they also knew he couldn't give up his drug abuse. Andersen passed drug tests every two to three weeks during his suspension. He cleaned his act up, and on March 4, 2008, he was reinstated into the NBA with the Hornets.

Andersen spent a year with the Hornets before deciding he wanted to return back to his true home, the place where he had been for the previous two years, the place where he cleaned his act up.

He wanted to be a Denver Nugget again.

The Nuggets signed Anderson to a one-ear deal July 24, 2008. Nuggets fans had mixed emotions of the "Birdman." They were happy to have him back, and add another solid player to the Nugget bench, then again they didn't know if he could hold up, and stay clean.

Andersen silenced all of his doubters during this year's NBA season.

The Birdman played in 71 games this season, starting one of them. He averaged 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. He ranked the second-leading shot blocker in the NBA, but his blocks per 48 minutes played, 5.5, is the league's best.

Needless to say, the Birdman has finally climbed back to the top.

He may not be the most gifted player in the league, or have the most talent, but he does what not to many guys do today.

He plays hard, extremely hard.

He's a class act who has many people, not only in Denver, on his side. He is a fan favorite who gets the crowd on their feet when he walks to check in. His high energy, and fast-paced play excite Nuggets fan night-in and night-out.

Andersen is an icon in my eyes. I love watching him play each and every game. He plays so hard, and puts his heart and soul into each game. A guy who wasn't even supposed to be in the NBA, and he got there in a way nobody else ever did before him.

Then, he hits his all time low. He is nearly gone from the game he has always loved. He cleans up, comes back, and look at him now.

If you haven't seen this guy play, I urge you to please check him out. His story is one of a kind, and his troubles have hit him hard.

He is the one and only "Birdman", and I hope to continue to see him flying in Denver for many years to come.