Charlotte, N.C. Chris Henry was no stranger to trouble.
Indeed, his multiple arrests during a five-year NFL career were among the factors prompting the league to toughen its personal conduct policy.
But to hear his teammates tell it — even the team’s owner — the Cincinnati Bengals receiver was determined to leave behind his troubled past and move ahead toward a bright future.
Tragically, his efforts were cut short when he died from injuries in what police said was a domestic dispute with his fiancee.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the 26-year-old Henry died early Thursday, less than 18 hours after he fell off of the back of a pickup truck on a curvy residential street about eight miles northwest of downtown Charlotte.
The cause of death was not immediately released.
Henry was away from the Bengals after suffering a season-ending broken forearm in a game last month.
“We knew him in a different way than his public persona,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said. “He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom.”
Bengals receiver Andre Caldwell said: “People thought he was a bad guy, but he had a big heart.”
Police released few details about the investigation, other than homicide detectives were assigned to the case. Two 911 tapes released Thursday and witnesses provided some clues.
Neighbor Lee Hardy told WLWT-TV and The Cincinnati Enquirer that he was working in his yard when the truck left the driveway. Hardy said Henry was yelling that he needed to talk to the woman behind the wheel.
“He said, ‘If you take off, I’m going to jump off the truck and kill myself,’” Hardy told the newspaper.
The first 911 tape was from an unidentified woman who said she was following a yellow pickup truck.
“It’s got a black man on it with no shirt on, and he’s got his arm in a cast and black pants on,” she told a dispatcher. “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.”
Patrick to race at California
Mooresville, N.C. — Danica Patrick will not make her NASCAR debut at Daytona International Speedway, and instead will wait one week and attempt to race in the Nationwide Series race in California.
The IndyCar driver is finalizing her NASCAR schedule, which is expected to be 13 Nationwide races for JR Motorsports.
Kelley Earnhardt, co-owner of JRM, says that Patrick will try to make the Nationwide races at Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 20 and the Feb. 27 race at Las Vegas.
Her stock-car debut will come in the Feb. 6 ARCA race at Daytona. She will test that car this weekend.
Missouri guard suspended
Columbia, Mo. — Missouri senior guard J.T. Tiller has been suspended for one game after an early-morning arrest over an unpaid speeding ticket.
Columbia police arrested Tiller around 1:30 a.m. Thursday on a warrant for failing to appear in court in the St. Louis suburb of Foristell. He subsequently paid a $185 fine.
Minnesota’s White leaving
Minneapolis — Prized recruit Royce White says he’s leaving the Minnesota basketball team because of his legal troubles and the stress they are causing his family and the program. White made the announcement in a video posted on YouTube early Thursday.
Knight rips Calipari
Indianapolis — Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in college basketball and cited Kentucky coach John Calipari as an example.
During a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Knight said he doesn’t understand why Calipari is still coaching.
“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking, and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching,” he said. “You see we’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”
Orioles to sign pair
Baltimore — Third baseman Garrett Atkins and reliever Mike Gonzalez have reached preliminary agreements with the Baltimore Orioles, people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
Gonzalez gets a $12 million, two-year contract, and Atkins receives a one-year deal with an option for 2011 that guarantees him $4.5 million.
NCAA investigates ASU
Phoenix — The NCAA is accusing Arizona State of failing to control its baseball program. The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that the university last month received a notice of the allegations. The case is not expected to be heard by the NCAA infractions committee until next summer.
The newspaper reported that the university received a notice from the NCAA on Nov. 19, one day before coach Pat Murphy announced his resignation.
San Jose hires coach
San Jose, Calif. — Mike MacIntyre had to change his Christmas plans at the last second. San Jose State has hired the Duke defensive coordinator to replace Dick Tomey as football coach. MacIntyre, who assumes his first head coaching job, was formally introduced Thursday.
Buckeye receiver out
Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State will be without freshman wide receiver Duron Carter when it takes on Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Team officials confirmed Thursday that Carter, the son of former NFL and Ohio State standout Cris Carter, would not play in the game.
Phelps supports Woods
Manchester, England — Michael Phelps expressed sympathy for Tiger Woods and his family on Thursday because of the scrutiny resulting from the golfer’s admitted infidelity. “He’s going through a hard time right now I assume — I’ve no idea what he is going through — but it can’t be easy, I just wish him the best for himself and his family,” Phelps said.