AMES, Iowa (AP) — Cameron Lard would wake up, meditate and do yoga. That was followed by a trip to the gym, a meal, meetings, another meal and more meetings.
It was a boring but a clean summer for Lard — and far healthier than the self-described “double life” he led at Iowa State a year ago.
Lard spoke with reporters Thursday for the first time since rejoining the Cyclones after a stint over the summer at a wellness center.
His time away from the program followed a series of legal incidents that put his career in jeopardy. The 20-year-old sophomore forward from Natchitoches, Louisiana, was remarkably candid in describing the impact his stay at that center — and his new relationship with former NBA player and motivational speaker Chris Herren — have had on his life.
“My chances are limited right now. I can’t mess up again. That stays in the back of my head. I’ve got one more shot at it, and it probably won’t get better than this,” Lard said.
Lard had a drug paraphernalia charge dismissed during a pretrial hearing in April. He was stopped by Ames police on Feb. 4 for speeding, and an officer smelled marijuana coming from the car. Lard pleaded guilty to speeding. He was also cited for being underage at an Ames bar this offseason.
He admits he was “making really bad decisions. Probably hanging out with the wrong people that was influencing me.”
Lard said that he’s since found a strong support group and he is “very grateful” to have Herren, whose own promising basketball career was dogged by substance abuse, in his corner. Lard said he and Herren first got in touch with each other at the end of last season, and their relationship got stronger at the start of the summer.
Lard and Herren call or text each other 3-4 times a week, and the experiences the former Fresno State Bulldog and Boston Celtic shared with Lard seemed to have stuck with him.
“Chris once told me, ‘Do I want to lay my head on a soft pillow?’ He said his coach told him that when he transferred schools,” Lard said. “He never got the meaning of that until like, I think he said like a year ago. Now he’s not living a double life. He can lay his head on a real soft pillow and get some rest. I think about that almost every day.”
Lard isn’t in the clear with Iowa State just yet.
Coach Steve Prohm on Thursday wouldn’t commit to saying that Lard would be eligible when the Cyclones open the season on Nov. 6 against Alabama State. Prohm said he’ll decide whether or not to discipline Lard further based on his actions moving forward.
“It’s our job to continue to nurture him from the standpoint to where, when’s he’s faced with adversity, when he’s faced with tough moments, he can fight through those. That’s hopefully the biggest lesson he learned,” Prohm said.
If Lard has truly started to turn his life around, he’s got a chance to finish his career with the Cyclones as a star.
Despite all of his off-court struggles, the 6-foot-9 Lard scored 12.6 points and grabbed 8.1 rebounds a game a year ago. The 245-pound Lard is unusually strong and fast for his size, and his instincts also allowed Lard to break the school record for blocks by a freshman with 63.
But Lard is perilously close to having all go away — and nobody knows that better than he does.
“I’m not living a double life anymore. Everything is going good right now,” Lard said. “I understand that I’ve got a real good chance at what I’m doing here. I’m chasing my dreams.”