After a troubled history with the law (five arrests in an 18-month span a few years ago), NFL star Chris Henry seemed to be coming back from the brink.
The football player credited his success in turning his life around to fiancée Loleini Tonga and their kids: Seini, 3, Chris Jr., 2, and DeMarcus, 10 months.
But now, after Henry passed away Thursday from injuries he sustained after a domestic dispute with Loleini Tonga, that relationship is in the crosshairs.
Homicide detectives have been assigned to the case, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, after Henry fell out of a pickup truck earlier this week.
He suffered life-threatening injuries Tuesday and died early Wednesday.
The more details emerge, the more tragic the story becomes.
In the last conscious moments of Chris Henry’s life, the Cincinnati Bengals member begged Tonga to stop so they could talk or he’d kill himself, a witness said.
Police say a domestic dispute jump-started the turn of events that led to fatal injuries Henry sustained after falling from the moving pickup. Henry was on medical leave visiting Loleini Tonga’s family when the fight began Wednesday.
Neighbor Lee Hard, was on a ladder cutting back some trees when he saw the yellow pickup “zooming” up the Tongas’ gravel driveway a few yards away.
Hardy said a shirtless black man (Chris Henry) clung to the top and side of the truck while standing in the bed, begging Loleini Tonga to stop the vehicle.
“He was banging on the top, on the doors, screaming, ‘We need to talk,'” Hardy said. “He yelled, ‘If you take off, I’m going to jump off and kill myself.'”
She stopped, hesitating at the end of the driveway, but then took off. Emergency dispatchers soon got a 911 call from a woman driving behind them.
It is not known how or why Chris Henry fell from the truck, but the fall ultimately claimed his life at 26. Also unclear is why Loleini Tonga and he argued that day.
TMZ may have shed some light on that, however. Just one day before he died, Henry met with a rep from a North Carolina wedding planning company.
That company claims the Cincinnati Bengals player was “annoyed” and “aggravated” Tuesday night at the cost of putting together his wedding to Tonga.
Henry became upset when he saw the bill and “with an attitude” asked Loleini, “How much we paying for all this?” The two then “bickered” over details.
Eventually Henry walked outside so Loleini could work out the details and fill out paperwork, which she later mentioned (seemingly happily) on MySpace.