Chris Henry's mom on life, death and where she's watching the game

Keith Sharon
Special to The Enquirer
Carolyn Henry Glaspy, mother of former Bengals player Chris Henry, looks on during the Super Bowl 56 Opening Night Fan Rally, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium. Henry died in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 17, 2009.

She drapes the blanket with her son's picture over the railing at Paul Brown stadium and Bengals fans chant her son's name.

Her son was Chris Henry, the former Bengals wide receiver, whose death in 2009 has touched the hearts of fans ever since.

At Monday's pre-Super Bowl pep rally, the blanket was there, the chanting started and Carolyn Glaspy broke down.

"I cried and I laughed with the fans," Glaspy said. "We got a great cheer, and I was very emotional. I got a lot of hugs that night. So many people cherish my son."

For the Super Bowl, Glaspy will be at 16 Lots Brewing Company in Mason to watch the game. She will be wearing Henry's No. 15 jersey and clutching that blanket tight.

"It's been a happy week," she said.

Cincinnati Bengals fans cheer as fireworks go off during the Super Bowl pep rally on Monday.

A complicated man

Chris Henry didn't always lead an exemplary life. Suspended several times for drug and personal conduct violations, Henry died Dec. 17, 2009, after falling from a truck and hitting his head on the pavement. Police said the incident occurred in what may have been a dispute with his wife.

Henry's autopsy revealed he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain injury caused by too many blows to the head.

He played five seasons for the Bengals, his time on the field limited by suspensions and several injuries. Henry caught 119 passes for 1,826 yards and 21 touchdowns.

In death, however, Henry was more spectacular. He was an organ donor.

Brian Polk received a kidney. Thomas Elliott received lungs. Donna Arnold received a pancreas and kidney. James Benton received Chris Henry's liver.

"I feel a lot of pride," Glaspy said. "Four beautiful people are living because of him. Even though I don't have the opportunity for my son to be out there on the field anymore."

Life-changing

After Henry died, his mother's life changed too.

Carolyn Glaspy now works for LifeCenter, an organ donor organization in Cincinnati.

"I'm doing Chris' job," she said.

She gets excited about interacting with Bengals fans.

"I love them all," she said. "I appreciate them keeping his memory alive."

She laughed when she thought about what Chris Henry might be doing if he were alive today and still playing for the Bengals.

"He would be figuring out how to get his family to LA for the Super Bowl," she said.

She had one more statement for Bengals fans: "We're going to bring that trophy home."

Keith Sharon is a regional reporter for the USA Today network and is based in Nashville.