Chris Henry was pronounced dead at 6:36 a.m. Thursday, one day after sustaining life threatening injuries suffered after a fall from a moving truck. While exact details are unclear as to the events leading up to the injury, authorities are saying the event was part of a domestic dispute. He was 26 years old.
Henry leaves behind a fiancée, Loleina Tonga and three children.
Henry was a beleaguered member of the Cincinnati Bengals. He was drafted in the third round in 2005 after what can accurately be described as a checkered past at West Virginia University. In fact, his conduct resulted in his former coach at West Virginia, Rich Rodriguez calling him, “an embarrassment to himself and the program.”
His problems did not end at West Virginia, either. After being drafted by the Bengals, Henry had a solid rookie season leading Cincinnati to its first playoff appearance in fifteen years while amassing 31 receptions for 422 yards and six touchdowns. A knee injury on the second play from scrimmage during the Bengals playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers ended his season.
He followed that up with 605 yards on 36 catches and nine touchdowns in 2006.
His off the field problems however had already begun to surface. Henry was suspended for two games during the 2006 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies following his arrest on December 15, 2005 for marijuana possession, driving without a valid license, and driving without valid insurance. He was also arrested on January 30, 2006 for concealment of a handgun and aggravated assault with a firearm.
Following Henry’s arrest on April 29, 2006 for supplying underage girls with alcohol, he was suspended for the first eight games of 2007.
In April 2008 Henry was finally waived by the Bengals after a myriad of other arrests and allegations; including driving under the influence and assault.
However, after making an attempt to “clean up his act” and injuries to Bengals receivers Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Andre Caldwell, Henry re-signed with the Bengals in 2008; signing a two-year contract on August 18th.
His rebirth now begun, the “new” Chris Henry finished the 2008 season with 19 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns. In 2009, Henry had totaled 12 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns before being placed on injured reserve in November with a broken arm. This, while likely leading the Bengals to their second playoff birth of his short career.
Now we’ll never know how Henry could have finished his comeback. Professional athletes in this country receive so many second chances it can sometimes lead to a backlash among fans. However, when the chances of a 26 year old kid are gone forever, it makes you wish they had a million more.