Henry's death humanizes Bengals

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - On Tuesday, fans will mourn Chris Henry in their own ways. Most never met him, but his death has still touched thousands of people. Some said it's because of his flawed life.

Monday afternoon, flowers sat before Chris Henry's locker. All while his teammates prepared to say their final goodbyes at his funeral.

"It's going to be a real emotional day for everybody that's going down to {New Orleans,}" said Bengals player Domata Peko. "It'll be a tough time. Last time we get to see Chris; his body, stuff like that. But you know, his memory will live on forever."

Fans continue to mourn Chris Henry and honor his memory with memorials such as the one at Paul Brown Stadium. Pictures, drawings, candles, and notes line several metal racks in front of one of the stadium's entrances. Most fans have never met him. Still, experts say their pain is very real.

"I imagine that we were identifying with his capacity to have overcome obstacles, to have done better," said Xavier University Professor Karl W. Stukenberg. "I think that we might have been coming around to him, and then to lose him at that moment feels particularly poignant."

Sunday's game in California was particularly tough. Many fans tell us the Bengals all played with heart, but in the end, it wasn't enough. The team lost. Still, many fans tells us they have a moment they'll never forget.

"Probably just the last few seconds that brought them to their loss," said Theresa Vollman.

"Especially Ochocinco," said Emily Royse. "He brought tears to my eyes with his touchdown."

Longtime Bengals fan Eric Schlinger added, "They went out there and they wanted to play for {Chris Henry} and they wanted to show this city has a lot of pride."

Still, Stukenberg put it best when he told us, professional athletes are "characters with whom we identify." Meaning, in our worlds, they're not just players on the fields, but our friends off them, as well. And when that dream died last week, many fans said so did a part of them.

"I think it was motivational actually to get out there and try to win the game for him," said Aaron White. "But unfortunately that didn't happen."

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