NFL star Chris Henry has died as a result of the injuries he sustained after falling out of the back of a moving pick-up truck yesterday.
Charlotte-Mecklenbruck police tell TMZ Henry died at 6:36 AM EST this morning.
He was 26.
As we previously reported, cops believe Henry — a wide receiver on the Cincinnati Bengals — jumped into the back of the truck, in an attempt to stop his fiancee from leaving a “domestic situation” at her parents’ home in North Carolina.
Henry was rushed to a local hospital — where he passed away this morning.
Authorities tell us they’re still investigating the situation.
[8:32 a.m. – 12/17/2009] – Chris Henry Is Battling For Life After Fall From Truck
Henry was found in the road in south Charlotte “apparently suffering life-threatening injuries,” according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Police spokesman Robert Fey said officers were stationed near the 26-year-old Henry’s hospital room. He had no information on Henry’s condition, but said he was alive.
“We ask everyone to pray for Chris,” agent Andy Simms of PlayersRep Sports said in a statement. “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.”
Police said a dispute began at a home just before noon and Henry jumped into the bed of the pickup truck as his fiancee — whom they did not identify by name — was driving away from the residence.
“The domestic situation continued between the operator and Mr. Henry,” the police said in a statement. “At some point while she was driving, Mr. Henry came out of the back of the vehicle.”
Henry was found on a residential street about half a mile (800 meters) from the home when police were called to the scene. Fey wouldn’t identify the woman and said no charges would be filed Wednesday.
Henry is engaged to Loleini Tonga, and the couple has been raising three children.
Henry was away from the team after breaking his left forearm during a win over Baltimore on Nov. 8. He had surgery and was placed on season-ending injured reserve following the game. Charlotte is home to his fiancee’s parents.
Team spokesman Jack Brennan said he had little information other than Henry was badly hurt.
“We are aware he was in an accident and that his injuries are very serious,” Brennan said. “We are staying in touch with the situation and are ready to offer whatever assistance we can.”
Henry is in the final year of his contract with the Bengals, who let him go after his fifth arrest following the 2007 season. Owner Mike Brown then brought him back a few months later, signing him to a two-year deal. Henry had stayed out of trouble with the police since his return.
In an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer in October, Henry credited his fiancee for helping him straighten out his life, saying, “She’s been a big help. She’s been right here with me and going through things and helping out on my side. We have the kids, and she has my back with everything I’ve needed.”
From the start, his career has been sidetracked by off-the-field problems.
Henry repeatedly got in trouble at West Virginia, where former Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez told him that he was an embarrassment to himself and the program.
Most teams to shied away from Henry in the 2005 draft. Cincinnati was the only one that brought him in for a visit, and warned him that he had to stay out of trouble if he was going to make it in the NFL. Then, the Bengals drafted him in the third round.
His ability to run past defenders made him an integral part of the Bengals’ run to the playoffs in 2005. He caught Carson Palmer’s only pass in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
His rookie season also marked the beginning of his problems in the NFL. He was arrested for marijuana possession in December 2005, and again on a weapons charge a month later in Florida. He was arrested four times in all, drawing repeated suspensions — two games in 2006, the first half of the 2007 season — for violating the league’s conduct policy.
Before the start of the season, he got a tattoo that said “Blessed” below his left ear, a reminder of how many chances he’s had.
“I don’t live the way I did in the past,” Henry said, in an interview with The Associated Press during training camp. “I kind of plan my days out and take it one day at a time and stay away from the wrong people. I’m not partying anymore. I’m just focused on football right now and my family. I don’t associate with the same people. I’ve completely changed everything.”