NFL player turned TV star Brad William Henke has died at the age of 56.
News of Henke’s death was confirmed in a statement released to media late on Thursday (1 December) by his manager, Matt DelPiano.
“Brad was an incredibly kind man of joyous energy,” read the statement. “A very talented actor, he loved being a part of this community… and we loved him back. Our thoughts are with his wife and family.”
It was reported by Deadline that Henke died in his sleep, although no cause of death has been disclosed.
A Nebraska native, Henke started out as a football player. He was initially drafted by the New York Giants in 1989, but was cut from the team during training camp.
He went on to play for the Denver Broncos, making an appearance against the San Francisco 49s in the 1990 Super Bowl.
After retiring from the NFL in 1994 due to injury, Henke became an actor, landing role in series such as ER, Nash Bridges and Lost.
He also featured in four episodes of Showtime’s hit serial killer drama Dexter, playing Tony Tucci, a murder suspect.
His best known role came in the fourth season of acclaimed Netflix prison drama Orange is the New Black. Henke played Desi Piscatella, a gay correctional officer at the women’s prison.
After news of his death broke, Orange is the New Black’s casting director Jen Euston tweeted: “This is a shock. Rest well, Brad. Thank you for all the work you contributed on OITNB. You will not be forgotten.”
Henke is survived by his mother, Tammy, his sister, Annette, his wife, Sonja, his stepson Aaden, his stepdaughter Leasa, and his grandchild Amirah.
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