Remembering Bengals' Wide Receiver Chris Henry: How Could We Forget?

Scott Pauley@scott.pauleyAnalyst IDecember 17, 2009

After sitting out his first season of college football, former West Virginia wide receiver, Chris Henry, began to live—as a football star—in 2003.

Henry became a starter for Rich Rodriguez’ Mountaineers and didn’t stop there.

After catching 41 passes, scoring 10 touchdowns, and gaining just over 1000 yards, in his first active season, Henry was named Big East Freshman of the Year and was named to the All-Big East second-team in 2003.

Henry was only the second player in school history to gain over 1000 yards in a single season, with 209 of those yards coming in one game, against Syracuse.

Chris continued to excel during the 2004 campaign, racking up nearly 900 yards on 52 catches, and only seven starts.

Unfortunately, Henry’s unsportsmanlike conduct on the field, led to his being penalized and ultimately ejected from the WVU-Rutgers game, his sophomore season.

Rodriguez was forced to suspend Henry for the final game of the season, vs. Pittsburgh.  Rodriguez stated that Henry was an embarrassment to himself and the football program—this being a very uncommon occurrence during Rodriguez’ tenure at West Virginia.

Following the ’04 season, Henry chose to try his hand in the NFL. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, in the third round, as the 83rd overall pick.

Henry’s troubles with the law seemed to become more common after his professional career got underway.

Henry was stopped by police in Kentucky for speeding. As a result of this stop, he was charged with possession of marijuana, driving while his license was suspended, and driving with no insurance in Dec. ’05.

In 2006, Henry was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, various gun charges, and providing alcohol to minors, among other charges.

The NFL was forced to suspend Henry, in ’06, for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies.

In 2007 he was suspended once again for violation of the leagues person conduct policy.

Following a March 2008 arrest, Henry was released by the Bengals.

Five months later he was re-signed and finished out the 2008 season. 

Henry began the 2009 season, but was placed on injured-reserve following an on-field injury.

On Dec. 16, Henry was involved in a domestic dispute with fiancée, Loleini Tonga, near Charlotte, NC, resulting in Henry falling from the back of a moving truck and sustaining life-ending injuries.

Henry was pronounced dead on the morning of Dec. 17, 2009.

Henry was—what some would call—a trouble maker.  However, Bengals’ teammates say Henry was on the right track and was trying to right his wrongs.

Fellow Bengals’ receiver, Chad Ochocinco, fought back tears and made a reference to the Lord, when talking about his friend getting his life back in order.

Henry was far from being the ideal prototype for athletes, when it comes to his attitude and demeanor.

However, he was a great football player. 

It is a shame that some folks get into situations that can incur such harsh consequences.

Chris Henry was just beginning to live again.