GREEN BAY – Former Packers tight end Mitchell Henry died Friday morning after a seven-month battle with leukemia. He was 24 years old.
Henry signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 out of Western Kentucky, where he had more than 1,000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over four seasons.
Henry didn’t make Green Bay’s opening-day roster as a rookie but was claimed on waivers by Denver. He played two games for the Broncos before being released and returning to the Packers’ practice squad.
During his second training camp in Green Bay in 2016, Henry broke his hand and was placed on injured reserve before eventually being released.
After a brief stint on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad in November, Henry returned home to Kentucky and began experiencing pain in his shoulder.
An MRI and other tests led to a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the same disease that afflicted the late Craig Sager. A longtime NBA sideline reporter, Sager had been raising awareness of the disease in the sports community since his diagnosis in 2014.
An avid outdoorsman, Henry had befriended several Packers with a similar passion, including receiver Jeff Janis, who discussed Henry’s diagnosis with packers.com when it became public late last year. Janis and his wife, Alyssa, in conjunction with the Packers Women’s Association, were among several organizers of a “Be The Match” bone marrow donor registry drive held at Lambeau Field in January.
“We were very saddened to learn of the passing of Mitchell Henry,” Packers GM Ted Thompson said in a statement. “During his time with the Packers, he quickly became a beloved member of our family and made a terrific impression on everyone in our organization. We were fortunate to have had him in our lives.
“On behalf of the Packers family, we offer our condolences to Mitchell's wife, Madison, and his family and friends.”
Last summer, Henry was the hero of Jordy Nelson’s annual charity softball game, hitting a walk-off homer to give the offense a victory. Henry had five homers and 12 RBIs in the game, and he spoke affectionately afterward about Packers fans.
“It just shows you how great this fan base is and how great this place is in Green Bay. There’s no other organization or team like this,” he said. “I don’t know any place you could go where you have this many people come out just to see you play softball. It’s pretty unique.”
Visitation will be held at First Christian Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET and Thursday from 10 a.m. until the service begins at 2.