RIP: Cincinnati Bengal Chris Henry

RG YohoCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26:  Wide receiver Chris Henry #15 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes warmups before the game against the Houston Texans on October 26, 2008 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.  The Texans won 35-6.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It was announced today that Cincinnati Bengal and former West Virginia Mountaineer receiver, Chris Henry, has passed away from injuries he suffered yesterday in a tragic accident.

Apparently, during a domestic dispute, Henry’s fiancée was driving away in a truck. The Bengals receiver must have tried to jump into the fleeing vehicle. At some point during this incident, Henry fell from the vehicle and sustained massive head injuries.

He succumbed to those injuries earlier today.

When you think of Chris Henry, you are reminded of an immensely talented player who often seemed destined for self-destruction. At one point, I fully expected him to die young; but I believed it would be on the wrong end of a gun in a bad area of the city.

I didn’t expect him to die like this.

Since being drafted into the NFL, Henry ran around with a crowd of people that clearly didn’t bring out his best qualities. In fact, it’s quite likely that he rarely brought out the best in them, as well.

Henry’s multiple scrapes with the law were certainly well-documented. The Bengals released him because of them.

Unfortunately however, much less publicized than his arrests were this young man’s sincere attempts to turn around his life.

He recently parted ways with the old crowd and was turning over a new leaf.

And it showed—on and off the field!

Apparently, his efforts to transform his life were sincere enough that a largely skeptical Cincinnati Bengals organization deliberately chose to reinstate him.

Many of us, those who wished to see this young man alter his off-the-field behavior to equal the level of his enormous athletic potential, were pleased to see him finally getting his life together.

And this tragic incident, in my mind, does nothing to disprove my opinion.

Who hasn’t at one time had a dispute with a spouse or girl friend? Nobody could have ever predicted that this one disagreement would lead to a young athlete’s death.

Strangely enough, Henry’s off-the-field transformation also corresponded to the Bengal’s on-the-field conversion from a team of losers to playoff contenders.

I do not mean to overstate this point; but as went Chris Henry, so went the Bengals.

As a result of the recent revelations regarding golfer, Tiger Woods, we have learned that public perceptions of a prominent athletic figure are not always correct.  

Unlike Tiger who was desperately trying to bottle up the truth regarding his image, Chris Henry had acknowledged the truth regarding his.  

He knew he had made a mess of his life and was doing everything in his power to change it.

And in the process, Chris Henry was becoming the athlete and young man that many of us always knew and hoped he could be.

Henry’s indiscretions were front page headlines; everybody knew about them.

Sadly, however, his redemption was much too private. And this latest fact should not be forgotten!

A young man with a troubled past, but a bright future, passed away today.

He will certainly be missed; and he should be.

The life of Chris Henry is a story of redemption, cut way too short by a great tragedy.