Deadly Fall: Cincinnati Bengals WR Chris Henry Succumbs To Injuries Sustained In Fall

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(CNN) --  Cincinnati Bengals football player Chris Henry died after a fall from the bed of a pickup during a fight with his fiancee, Charlotte, North Carolina, police said Thursday.

"At 6:36 a.m. this morning, Chris Henry died as a result of his injuries sustained during this incident," a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police news release said. "Department detectives continue to work diligently on this active investigation."

Shortly before noon Wednesday, Henry's fiancee tried to drive off during a "domestic situation," only to have Henry jump into the bed of the truck, police said.

"The domestic situation continued between the operator and Mr. Henry," according to a police statement. Henry "came out of the back of the vehicle" about six-tenths of a mile from the house, it said. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center hospital in Charlotte.

Henry was a native of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, according to the Bengals Web site. He and his fiancee, Loleini Tonga, have three children and planned to be married in March, the team said. Tonga's family lives in Charlotte.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he had told players of Henry's death, and had spoken to them a couple of times Thursday, but declined to tell reporters what was said. "That's between us," he said.

The 26-year-old receiver played for the Bengals for five seasons, but was on the injured reserve list after suffering a dislocated forearm during a November 8 game against the Baltimore Ravens. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Henry caught 12 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in eight games before being hurt.

An article on the Bengals Web site called Henry "one of the best comeback stories in the NFL" prior to being injured, saying he had rebuilt "his life and career in a three-year climb from a series of off-field problems."

Those problems, the article said, included four arrests, three NFL suspensions and a release from the Bengals in April 2008. But Henry had since "put his life back together," according to the article.

Club president Mike Brown told reporters Thursday he didn't regret giving Henry a second chance.

Henry had "finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom, and he was going to have the future that we all wanted for him and he wanted for himself. And then this tragedy cut him down," Brown said. "... It's a terrible tragedy that just at the time he was running to daylight, if you will, his life was snuffed out."

Funeral details were pending and will be released later, Brown said.

Lewis said when he talked with Henry in August about coming back, "there was a different man that was sitting across from me and a different person. From that point on, we've seen pretty much a continual growth."

Tonga, Lewis said, "had been a very steadying force in Chris' life."

Brown, Lewis and others spoke of Henry's gentle and soft-spoken nature, his big heart and his love for his children.

"Our football team, what they're feeling yesterday and this morning ... they watched a guy mature as a young man and work through adversity," Lewis said, adding that Henry became "a beacon of hope."

Henry's family was affected by Hurricane Katrina, and he became the sole breadwinner, Lewis said.

Lewis recalled seeing Henry at rookie camp, catching the first ball thrown to him and sticking up his finger in celebration.

"I told the receivers coach at that time, 'You better get him,'" he said.

At West Virginia University, Henry tied with Darius Reynaud for the school's single-season touchdown reception record, with 12. He was second in the university's career touchdown receptions with 22 and eighth in career yardage with 1,878.

The Bengals are one win away from clinching the AFC North title, according to the team's Web site. Players will leave Friday for Sunday's game in San Diego, California.


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