Peko knows he'll miss Henry

Posted Dec 17, 2009

Posted: 12:35 a.m.

The tentative date for Chris Henry’s funeral appears to be Tuesday in Gretna, La., near New Orleans. It is believed the Bengals plan to charter a plane to the service, but on Thursday they were still trying to come to grips with his death.

Through their fiancée and girlfriend and kids, Henry and Domata Peko became close friends. Word that Peko’s friend died in a pickup truck accident that police have described as part of “a domestic dispute” with fiancée Loleini Tonga didn’t sound right to Peko and Henry’s other teammates. They praised her Thursday for the order she brought to his life.

“Loleini had been a very steadying force in Chris' life, since she came into his life,” said head coach Marvin Lewis, who thought that Charlotte had been a good place for Henry when he wasn’t required to be in Cincinnati.

“He was with (her) family down there, which has been a very comfortable environment and really has been a great spot for him to be,” Lewis said. “And he spent a lot of time down there once he was able to do that, so we were very comfortable with him in that environment.”

“It’s a curveball to everybody,” said Peko, the defensive tackle and a captain. "I just pray for his mom and his family and for Loleini’s family, and hope everything works out. Only they know what really happened. All I know is we lost Chris and when you lose a good friend like that it’s going to hurt.”

Peko, the son of a minister, says he is “live testimony” at the growth of Henry off the field. He arrived a year after Henry in 2006.

“When I first came here he was getting into so much trouble,” Peko said. “It’s been four years from when I first came to now and he changed. Big change. A really respectful person. He changed his life. Wasn’t hanging around with a bad crowd anymore. Not going out and making a fool. He really changed his life. I’m going to miss him tremendously. He used to come over all the time. Hang out with me and kick it. His kids had play dates at my house. It’s a tough time. I’m going to miss him a lot.”


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