Henry was rushed to the hospital Wednesday after being found on a residential road "apparently suffering life-threatening injuries," according to police. Police said a dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and Henry jumped into the bed of the pickup truck as his fiancee was driving away from the residence.
At some point when she was driving, Henry "came out of the back of the vehicle." No charges were immediately filed. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Henry died at 6:36 a.m.
"It is with great sadness to learn Chris has passed away," Henry's agent, Andy Simms said in a statement. "For those who knew Chris, he was nothing like his public perception. A loving and caring individual, he was thankful for what he had in life, and proud of what he had overcome."
"We ask that you keep Chris' family -- especially the young children he leaves behind -- in your prayers," Simms said. "It is tragic when a life is taken so young. He was a man just realizing his potential, not just in football, but in life"
Police spokeswoman Rosalyn Harrington said homicide detectives have been assigned to the case but had no further information. Police have not released the 911 tapes, and Harrington wouldn't say if the woman was present at the scene when police arrived.
Bengals president Mike Brown said Thursday that it was a "terrible tragedy'' that Henry died just "as he was running to daylight.'' Brown had been criticized for giving Henry several chances as a player.
"What I saw was a good person at heart,'' said Brown. "Sometimes he wasn't described that way, but that's how I saw him."
Henry, who played five seasons for the Bengals, was a talented but troubled football player whose on-field accomplishments were overshadowed by his off-field problems. He was once the league's poster boy for bad behavior, with a series of arrests leading to an eight-game suspension at the start of the 2007 season.
But over the last year Henry was said to be turning his personal life around and focusing on his relationship with his fiancee and their three children -- DeMarcus, Seini and Chris Jr (all pictured below).
"He's a great kid with a great heart," quarterback 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."
Before the 2009 season, Henry got a new tattoo that matched his new outlook. Below his left ear, in flowing one-inch script, was the world "Blessed."
"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."
"If you only knew him by hearsay, you'd think he's some kind of ogre," Brown said, during the Bengals' appearance on HBO's Hard Knocks series this summer. "It's not true. He's a good person. When you see him up close, you'll find that you'll like him. He'll be a soft-spoken, pleasant person."
Details are still sketchy about what happened between Henry and his fiancee on Wednesday, but his injuries were described as grave, and he passed away early Thursday.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.