Bengals Receiver Chris Henry in Serious Accident
CHARLOTTE - Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suffered serious head injuries and was on life support Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C., after being involved in what police are describing as a "domestic situation" with his fiancee in which Henry came out of the back of a truck. FOXsports.com is reporting that the situation was "dire."
Henry's agents, PlayersRep Sports Management, issued a statement saying: "We ask everyone to pray for Chris. We also ask that you respect the privacy of Chris' family. Chris is indeed battling for his life tonight, and our thoughts and prayers are with him during this extremely difficult time."
Henry's condominium, with a Bengals door mat out front, was dark Wednesday night, as his immediate family, including his mother and brother, rushed to Charlotte.
Bengals public relations director Jack Brennan said the team "was monitoring the situation and trying to assist in any way that we can."
Coach Marvin Lewis elected to withhold comment until morning.
For the team this would be their second major loss in two months. On Oct. 8, Vikki Zimmer, the wife of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, suddenly passed away.
According to detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, officers responded to a call just before noon in reference to a person down a half mile from the house where Henry and his fiancee, Loleini Tonga were staying. When officers arrived, they found Henry in the road with life-threatening injuries.
Henry, 26, was taken to Carolinas Medical Center.
Police say Henry had been involved in a "domestic situation." Tonga had gotten into a pickup truck and driven away, police say. As she was driving, Henry jumped into the bed of the truck. A dispute continued between the two, and at some point Henry "came out of the back" of the truck.
The Homicide and Highway Interdiction Traffic Safety units are conducting an investigation. Police spokesman Robert Fey said no charges would be filed Wednesday.
Henry was in Charlotte, where his fiancee's family lives, to continue making arrangements for their March wedding. They arrived in North Carolina on Tuesday.
On Nov. 9, after what looked to be a season of much promise, Henry was placed on season-ending injured reserve after having surgery on his fractured left forearm.
He finished the season with 12 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was tough at first, but now I just have to roll with the punches and do what I need to do in order to get healthy," Henry said last month after the injury.
Henry was drafted by the Bengals in the third round in 2005. He was known as a player with immense talent, but his promise was marred by legal problems.
During his first three seasons, his run-ins with the law included charges related to drugs, gun possession and DUI. He served jail time for drinking in a Covington hotel room with underage girls.
After serving an eight-game disciplinary suspension in 2007, Henry appeared to be turning his life around. But on April 3, 2008, the Bengals released him after his fifth arrest in 28 months. Club President Mike Brown decided to re-sign Henry four months later in a move that was ridiculed by fans.
At the time of Henry's return, Bengals offensive lineman Willie Anderson credited player relations director Eric Ball, assistant strength coach Ray Oliver and director of security Rusty Guy for playing roles in bringing Henry back to the club.
"Those people busted their tails beyond duty helping him out," said Anderson, who is no longer with the team. "He has found the end of the rainbow three or four times."
During the time out of football, Henry said, he found out who his true friends were. That included Tonga, who had stuck by his side during the bad times and with whom he has been rearing three children.
"It was easy, because I think I know him better than a lot of people," Tonga said this fall. "I knew what happened and what they're saying wasn't true," she said three months ago. "Besides everything, I see him every day. Standing by him was a piece of cake."
Since rejoining the club, Henry had seemed to have his life on the right path.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was a teammate of Henry's for four seasons before leaving the Bengals this past offseason for Seattle, was saddened over the news of Henry.
"When he broke his arm, I texted him and told him that everything would work itself out," Houshmandzadeh said. "It's just weird when you're doing bad and getting in trouble, the only thing that happens is you lose playing the game you love. When you turn your life around and then the most serious thing that can happen is you lose your life. It's just crazy."