Marcus Henry was that rare person who brightened any room he entered. A former athlete, he was an authority on many sports but never came across as a know-it-all.
He also was a generous giver, a jovial man who never trumpeted his deeply held Christian faith. Instead, he lived it. A versatile member of the Newsday sports staff since 2003, Henry died unexpectedly Tuesday at his home in Hempstead. He was 41.
"All he needed in his life was God, family and sports," said his brother, Sean Henry, 39, of the Bronx. "A pretty simple, but an extremely happy life. My brother appreciated the simple things."
Henry, affectionately known as Mo, was always about community and leadership.
"He loved working at our church," said his wife of five years, Carmela Henry. "He wrote a newsletter for it. He shot video, photography and worked the sound booth. He loved sports, friends and family.
"I loved everything about him."
Henry graduated in 1991 from Baldwin High School, where he captained the football team and earned All-Nassau Conference I honors as a three-year starter on the offensive line.
"He was the first player I ever brought up as a sophomore," said Steve Carroll, his coach at Baldwin. "He was big enough and tough enough to be on the varsity as a sophomore. He was always the first guy at practice and loved the game."
Henry played one year of football at Temple University before his career was cut short by a knee injury.
"His first love was football," Sean Henry said. "On the football field he became a different person, a real warrior. As soon as the helmet came off, he was back to just being a great guy, a genuinely kind soul."
After football, Henry turned to journalism. At Newsday, he was a regular on the boxing beat and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He also reported on professional, college and high school sports.
"Everyone at Newsday is devastated by this," said Hank Winnicki, Newsday's assistant managing editor for sports. "Marcus was a great guy and a terrific colleague who loved what he did. I don't know anyone who didn't like him. He was gracious, generous and kind. We will all miss him."
Henry chronicled many big fights, including Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto vs. Shane Mosley and Cotto vs. Michael Jennings. He covered Hofstra, Stony Brook, St. John's and the New York Liberty, and also contributed to the New York Amsterdam News, College and Pro Football Weekly and the National Sports Weekly.
But his world was bigger than sports. Carroll said Henry was beloved in the community and a role model for youngsters. "He worked with me at the summer camp at Friends Academy and the kids loved him," he said. "He was a great kid and fit right into being a mentor."
Carmela Henry said her husband would assist at the senior ministry at Hempstead's Union Baptist Church. "He was motivating them at the church to eat right and get healthy," she said. "He loved working with the senior citizens.
"We never had a bad moment," she added. "We had a wonderful marriage, and I was totally blessed to have him in my life."
Henry's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Sedgwick V. Easley, saluted him.
"Marcus spent countless hours at the church," Easley said. "He was gentle, always easygoing, never a bad word.
"This loss is indescribable, and it will be years before we'll even process the thought that Marcus Henry is gone. He will live forever in the Union Baptist Church. He loved Union."