Love or Drama: The Death of Chris Henry

17 Dec

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to speak ill of a young man who lost his life early today, nor the young woman he was with at the time.  It does however serve as an opportunity to discuss the health of relationships between young men and women of color.


NFL player Chris Henry, 26 years old, died early this morning from severe head injuries after falling from the bed of a moving truck yesterday afternoon.

Henry reportedly jumped into the back of the truck when his fiancé, Loleini Tonga left her parent’s home in North Carolina after she and Henry got into a “domestic dispute.”  Police did not see any visible injuries to Tonga.

One 911 caller told police a man was banging on the back window of the truck, shirtless, his arm in a cast (he broke it in November).

Minutes later, another call to 911 reported what appeared to be a dead man in the street.

TMZ reports that just hours before the truck incident, Tonga was on her MySpace page “bragging” about her engagement to Henry:

“put deposIt down 4 weDDing piCs… Paid 4 ouR riNgs.”
News of Chris Henry’s death- and the circumstances around it, has inspired an exacerbated response by the public- particularly African Americans.  Comments news articles, Twitter and Facebook show that many people feel Henry’s death of senseless, borderline stupid- and that “drama” is to blame.

Though none of us really knows Henry or Tonga, or what their relationship was like- the information to date would suggest people are right- drama strikes again.

As a relationship counselor, I see it all the time- relationships between men and women (of all races, but right now we’re just talking about Black people/people of color) that thrive off drama- not love.  These relationships either come to messy ends, or they last for many years, or they last forever- it depends on the people in it.

The emotions around “drama” can be addicting- they provide a type of emotional high- and also an emotional low, which people actually, truly become addicted to.

Chris Brown and RiRi- drama addiction.

Bobby and Whitney- drama addiction.

Some people get it in their heads that a relationship must have drama- that it’s not real without it- people actually think that drama is good for a relationship.  Some people also mistake drama for “passion.”

Total crap.  Drama is not passion and drama is never good in a relationship.  While Tonga and Henry were young, drama happens in relationships of all ages, young and old.  That said, age and maturity does have a lot to do with how a person handles drama when it comes their way.

In relationships we attract reflections of ourselves- so if “blame” falls in this situation, it falls equally on both- she stomped out and drove off mad- he jumped in the bed of the truck, she didn’t stop the car, he stoked the adrenaline by screaming at her and banging on the window, and so on, and so on, and so on.

They were feeding off of each other’s need for drama.  Clearly one was not more mature than the other because no one was level headed enough to stop and think for a moment- to take a wise, responsible step.

A mature man knows, even when he woman is saying “it’s over, I’m leaving you,” that chasing her down is not the smarter move.  A mature man knows when a woman is so upset that she can’t really, rationally hear anything he has to say.

A mature woman knows when a situation has gotten out of control.  A mature woman knows when to set herself aside and act in the best interest of both parties.

Mature men and women love and care about each other enough to take a time out from a disagreement and “get centered” again.

When drama takes over, it’s like a California wildfire, consuming everything in it’s path.  Each time a couple strikes the drama match, the burn pattern eats away more rationality than before, escalating the danger.

Now a young man is dead.  And for what?

Personally, I’m disgusted by this sad situation, but I hope it serves as a reminder to all of us, when we see drama in our midst, take that guy or gal aside and give them a bit of relationship wisdom.

Chris Henry is gone now- he’ll never marry, never play football again,  and never celebrate another holiday season with family.

And for what?  Drama.

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One Response to “Love or Drama: The Death of Chris Henry”

  1. inkognegro December 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    This is an excellent article. I couldn’t agree more.

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