NFL's Chris Henry Dies: Was He on a Path to Reform?

The Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver had a trouble past, but fans and fellow players saw signs of improvement

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In a tragic development, Chris Henry, a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, died Thursday after falling from a moving pickup truck during a dispute with his wife. The incident casts a disquieting light on the athlete's life, which was plagued by setbacks including "five arrests, three NFL suspensions and a host of second chances." Yet in the last year, Henry seemed to be improving his behavior. Here's what his fans, sports critics and colleagues are saying:

  • Unanswered Prayers Zennie Abraham, a sportswriter at The San Francisco Chronicle, writes: "We love people who overcome personal demons and rise to the level of success they so richly deserve. Chris Henry was one of those people. What bothers me is that my prayer that Henry make it wasn't answered, which can only mean God has a better place for him. I'll just have to accept that."
  • Did Henry Ever Change His Ways? asks James Joyner at Outside the Beltway: "Henry showed flashes of greatness on the football field but his career was constantly overshadowed by off-the-field foolishness. Going back to his college days, he had trouble with guns, drugs, alcohol, women, girls not old enough to be called women, and the police. Perhaps he had cleaned up his act -- he hadn't been arrested in more than a year! -- but the circumstances of his death call that into question. Truly a shame. But not a great surprise."
  • He Was a Changed Man Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis said when Henry returned to the team in 2008, he matured greatly. Something the whole team noticed: "They've watched Chris ... mature as a young man and work through adversity and kind of come out of it and be a beacon of hope for other people,"

  • It Wasn't His Time, says Bengals Wide Receiver Chad Ochocinco, giving an interview in the Bengals' locker room: "He was doing everything right. He's been doing eveything right...My grandma always says you never really question the man upstairs on decisions he makes because he never makes mistakes, but ... (holding back tears) I don't see how Chris was supposed to go already. Especially when you're on the right path."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.