Chris Henry's Death: Loleini Tonga, The 911 Calls & The Regret
By Sam Brand Posted Dec 17th 2009 10:34PM
In April 2008 an Ohio judge called Chris Henry a "one man crime wave." It turned out the talented football player was innocent of the charges alluded to by the overeager judge. Henry was guilty of many other breaches of the law. But the public was always quick to attack the troubled wide receiver, regardless of how he behaved. Nobody is attacking Henry today, and for good reason. The 26-year-old phenom appeared to be turning his life around before he was thrown from his fiancee's truck on Wednesday. "Just at the time he was running to daylight," Bengals president Mike Brown said today, "his life was snuffed out."
Chris Henry – The 6'4" Louisiana native might have been too good for his own good. He was too talented to graduate, entering the NFL draft after only his second season on the college field. He was too fast for his frame, injuring his knee on a 66 yard catch during the Bengals first playoff game in 15 years. And he was too valuable to keep off the field, as Brown invited Henry back onto the Bengals just months after kicking him off for bad behavior.
Reaction – Everyone has something to say about Chris Henry. He was a special and oft misunderstood young man. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer told reporters, "There was a lot of speculation about who he was, but the only guys that knew Chris and knew how good of a heart he had, how kind he was, how gentle he was... were the guys in our locker room, the guys who were close to him, his family." Bengals guard Bobbie Williams said, "Chris was responsible, dependable, loved football. He had made the changes he needed to make." Star wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, whose stats Henry padded by opening up the field and diverting defenders' attention, choked back tears in the Bengals locker room today. "He was doing everything right. He's been doing everything right," Ochocinco said. "I don't see how Chris was supposed to go already. Especially when you're on the right path."
Loleini Tonga – Loleiini Tonga, or "Mrs. C. Henry" as she calls herself on MySpace, is the 25-year-old mother to 3 of Henry's children and the woman alleged to be at the wheel of the pickup that threw him into a North Carolina street on Wednesday. On Tuesday Tonga posted a message on MySpace claiming she and Henry had just paid for their wedding pictures and rings. A day earlier she wrote that her "WeDding dreSs is oFF da ChaiN." Today she is being investigated for inadvertently killing the man she planned to marry.
Chris Henry 911 Call – Two 911 calls were made in connection with Chris Henry's death. An unidentified woman following the yellow pickup allegedly driven by Tonga was the first to call. She described the situation as "a black man on it with no shirt on, and he's got his arm in a cast and black pants on." She continued, "He's beating on the back of this truck window... I don't know if he's trying to break in or something. It just looks crazy. It's a girl driving it." The truck then turned off the street and was lost. Moments later another call came in claiming a man in his 20s was lying in the street. He was "definitely unconscious" said the concerned citizen. Chris Henry was picked up by an ambulance shortly thereafter and rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at 6:36 a.m. Thursday morning.
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