Danroy Henry Memorial a Requiem for a Young Life Lost
BOSTON -- At Danroy Henry's memorial service Friday, the football players of Pace University wore dark suits and somber expressions and a few signs of a long season.
One walked on crutches with his foot in a cast. Another wore a bandage on his wrist with his arm in a sling. Others moved slowly, limping slightly. But their aches and pains were inconsequential to the reason for the gathering.
The players were among about 2,000 persons in a big room of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center who met to honor a teammate slain almost two weeks ago by police bullets in Thornwood, N.Y., a suburb north of New York City.
Desmond Hinds, a wide receiver, recalled that Henry, who was from the Boston suburbs, was a Celtics fan and had looked forward to Tuesday's NBA opener against LeBron James and the Miami Heat and had frequently predicted a Boston victory.
"I can't wait! I can't wait!" Hinds said, recalling his friend's words in the days before his death. The Celtics won the game, nine days after Henry died.
"I believe they won because he was on their side," Hinds said while standing on a flower-filled stage that included a photograph of Henry and various football decorations.
The players and other students had arrived after a four-hour bus ride from their campus in Westchester County. The ceremonies were held in a building overlooking the Boston skyline and the golden leaves of mid-autumn trees in New England.
Inside, video monitors showed still photographs of Henry at different stages of his life, almost always smiling, often playing sports, or sometimes in the arms of family members and friends.
Kevin Murphy, an uncle of Henry, strummed an acoustic guitar and sang an original song "Hey, D.J." about Henry's controversial death and his football play at cornerback.
"Hey, D.J., I can't believe they took you out that way," Murphy's song lyrics said. "What makes them do the evil that they do? ... I caught a little of the football game when you were up this way. I swear I thought you were going to take it all the way. The love you left in our lives is here to stay."
Henry died Oct. 17 at 1:20 a.m. in his car in a parking lot near a restaurant near campus a few hours after a homecoming game against Stonehill. The Setters (0-6) canceled last Saturday's game at Bentley. They resume their season this week at home against New Haven.
Many facts surrounding Henry's death are in dispute but all agree that he was hit by three police bullets and that at least two officers fired their guns. Police have said Henry hit two officers with his car. Henry's friends said he was moving his car when told to do so by police and that police jumped in front of the car and fired.
A news report citing a leak from what were called official sources said Henry's blood alcohol level was .13, above the legal limit of .08 to drive. Henry's friends and lawyer have said he was not drinking and was a designated driver.
There were few overt references to the case during the ceremonies Friday, but a couple allusions.
On the back of the program distributed to mourners was a verse from Isaiah 54:17 which included the words "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you."
Several speakers mentioned the irony of the angel wings that were tattooed on Henry's back and how he used to wear a Los Angeles Angels baseball cap because he liked angels in general.
Tony O'Dea of East Taunton, Mass., said he was a neighbor of the family when Henry was young and mentioned that his parents had watched his last game and visited with him afterward.
"They kissed him and said 'Goodbye,' " O'Dea said.
Henry's parents, Dan and Angella, stood on the stage at the end of the service with Henry's sister, Amber, and brother, Kyle. They mentioned that their last day together with him, after the homecoming game, included Henry's demonstration of the ring tones on his cell phone.
When Henry's mother would call, the phone would play "Momma, I love you;" when Henry's father would call, the phone would play "Like father, like son."
They mentioned that Friday would have been his birthday. He would have turned 21.
"Even though he didn't want to have a big 21st birthday, he's going to anyway," Dan Henry said.
So they ended the ceremony by serving cake and a choir sang "Happy Birthday."