Let me preface this post by saying, I didn't know Chris Henry or his fiancée Tonga personally. And I don't make generalizations that start with "all black athletes" I've known too many to disrespect them like that. I don't know (nor care to know) the details that led to his tragic death nor do I need to recount the struggles Mr. Henry went through in his life.
So what I will do is mourn the loss of a 26-year old man who was not allowed to reach his full potential. A young black man, who like so many others, is gone far too early. Cincinnati Bengals owner said, "He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom. And he was going to have the future we all wanted for him. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him."
From the National Sports Review:
"I kind of felt like I dug myself out of the hole and started doing the right things," Henry said in an interview with The Associated Press as training camp opened. "People say, 'How you feeling now Chris? You doing all right?' I just tell them I'm blessed. That's why I got it."
He did get it. He did understand the consequences of his poor decisions. He dug himself out of a deep hole, a hole deeper than anyone could imagine. And then, just like that, he's gone. Just like that, a comeback was ended. Just like that, another athlete died far too young.
When the Bengals brought him back, he was determined to live up to his potential. He spent more time working out. He spent more time with his fiancee and with his kids. He was a changed man. The Bengals noticed.
"He's a great kid with a great heart," (Bengals QB Carson)Palmer said as training camp started. "He's changed his life around. He ran into some trouble, made some bad decisions, and realized that. He's sorry for them, apologized for them, and has done everything he can to make himself a better person. I'm just proud of him."
Chris is survived by three children, a mother and father, a fiancée and countless friends and fans who will miss him. I personally hate when it appears that someone has a chance at redemption and never gets the opportunity. One of the haunting things about those that die young is the hovering specter of "What if…" that lingers. I especially hate to see young Black men leave us too soon. What's left to say? Death sucks. RIP Chris.