Chris Henry Dead at 26
Troubled football player Chris Henry has died after a bizarre accident.
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry has died, one day after falling out of the back of a pickup truck in what authorities described as a domestic dispute with his fiancee. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Henry died at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. Henry was 26.”It is with great sadness to learn Chris has passed away,” Henry’s agent, Andy Simms, said in a statement. “For those who knew Chris, he was nothing like his public perception. A loving and caring individual, he was thankful for what he had in life, and proud of what he had overcome.”
Henry was rushed to the hospital Wednesday after being found on a residential road “apparently suffering life-threatening injuries,” according to police. Police said a dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and Henry jumped into the bed of the pickup truck as his fiancee was driving away from the residence.
Police said at some point when she was driving, Henry “came out of the back of the vehicle.” They wouldn’t identify the woman, and no charges were immediately filed.
Police spokeswoman Rosalyn Harrington said homicide detectives have been assigned to the case but had no further information. Police have not released the 911 tapes, and Harrington wouldn’t say if the woman was present at the scene when police arrived. Authorities have not announced the cause of death. Mecklenburg County medical examiner investigator Carol Cormier said they were expecting to receive the body later Thursday.
Henry is engaged to Loleini Tonga, and the couple has been raising three children. Tonga’s MySpace page identifies herself as “Mrs. C. Henry” and has a picture of her next to a person who appears to be Henry. She also has a post from Tuesday talking about buying wedding rings. A neighbor said Wednesday that the Tonga family owns the home where police say the incident began. Charlotte is home to his fiancee’s parents.
“He was good at what he did as a player, he was a teammate to our players and a friend to almost all of us in the building,” Bengals president Mike Brown said at a news conference Thursday at the team’s headquarters. “We knew him in a way that [was not consistent] with his public persona. We liked him. He had worked through troubles in his life … to a point where he was going to have the future we all wanted for him and that he wanted for himself.
“At the time of his tragedy he was running to daylight.”
Sadly, not fast enough.
Henry showed flashes of greatness on the football field but his career was constantly overshadowed by off-the-field foolishness. Going back to his college days, he had trouble with guns, drugs, alcohol, women, girls not old enough to be called women, and the police. Perhaps he had cleaned up his act — he hadn’t been arrested in more than a year! — but the circumstances of his death call that into question.
Truly a shame. But not a great surprise.