May 28, 2024

Why did late Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry die?

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Chris Henry in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft, signaling his stardom. Nevertheless, he passed away at the age of 26 only five seasons into his tenure with the team.

The Bengals wide receiver passed away on December 17, 2009, one day after he was reported by the police to have had a domestic argument with his fiancée Loleini Tonga and fell out of the back of a pickup truck. Henry’s cause of death was later determined by an autopsy to be blunt-force head trauma.

Reports state that Henry sustained repeated head injuries during his football career, which led to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Interestingly, CTE can only be conclusively diagnosed during an autopsy.

Henry was a player in the NFL at the time of his death, making this the first instance of an active player passing away and receiving a CTE diagnosis.

A week after Henry’s passing, Tonga told reporters that although the late NFL player did jump off the back of the truck, he wasn’t attempting to hurt himself. She added that Henry might have been afraid because he saw someone phoning the police, but he believed he would land safely.

Henry was not with the Bengals at the time of the incident because he had been placed on injured reserve because of a broken forearm that would have ended the season.

Henry and Tonga were parents to three children: Seini, a daughter, and Chris Jr. and DeMarcus, two boys.


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