The Bengals were informed today by authorities in Charlotte, N.C., that WR Chris Henry died this morning from injuries sustained in an accident in Charlotte yesterday.
Henry played in this season’s first eight games with the Bengals, but was sidelined for the remainder of the season with a left forearm fracture he suffered on Nov. 8 at Baltimore. Henry was in Cincinnati last weekend for an exam by the team’s medical staff. As there was no rehab indicated for his injury beyond periodic adjustments of his cast, he was cleared at that point to return to Charlotte to be with his fiancé, Loleini Tonga (first name pronounced ‘LAY-nee’) and her family.
The couple had announced plans to be married in March. Henry leaves two sons, Chris Jr., two, and DeMarcus, one.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.
Bengals president Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis addressed news media today regarding Henry’s passing.
“Here at the Bengals, we knew Chris as a teammate and a close friend,” Brown said. “To us, he was a warm, pleasant and easygoing person. He was popular with the players, coaches and team management. This is a painful feeling, a tragedy, and we will miss him. ”
Henry’s hometown was Belle Chasse, La., near New Orleans. He played in college at West Virginia and joined the Bengals as a third-round draft choice in 2005. He had a succession of legal problems early in his career, resulting in multiple NFL suspensions. But the last offense for which he was convicted occurred in 2006.
“People were surprised that we stood by Chris during his problems,” Brown said. “The reason was, we knew Chris to be different than his public persona. To the best of his ability, Chris reached out to the team, his friends and his family. Everyone tried to help, and sometimes it went awry. But Chris’ heart was always in the right place. He was a good person, and he was on the road to doing well in his football career.”
Born May 17, 1983, Henry played during five Bengals seasons (2005-09). He saw action in 55 games with 12 starts, catching 119 passes for 1826 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“We had seen Chris expand this year as both a person and on the field,” said Lewis. “He had grown and matured. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Chris’ family and to everyone else who held him dear.”