Brad William Henke, Orange’s new black star and former NFL player, passed away at age 56

Brad William Henke, a former Denver Bronco player and an actor best known for his appearances in, among others Orange is the new black, is deceased. Henke’s manager Matt DelPiano confirmed the news in a statement, writing: “Brad was an incredibly nice man with joyful energy. A very talented actor, he loved being a part of this community… and we loved him too. Our thoughts are with his wife and family.” The athlete turned actor died in his sleep with no confirmed cause, he was 56 years old.

Henke played Defensive end at the University of Arizona and was drafted by the New York Giants in the NFL Draft in 1989, although he was cut before the season started, he would join the Denver Broncos and even play during Super Bowl XXIV. He would retire from the NFL in 1994. For many, Henke was best recognized as prison warden Desi Piscatella in Netflix’s Orange is the new black, a role he played in 26 episodes of the series. The show was not his first acting role, however, as he began appearing in films and television just two years after his NFL retirement.

His other television work includes numerous 90s hits such as Chicago Hope, Nash Bridges, ERand Sports night. Naturally, thanks to his size, Henke would play tough and tough guys on TV, including in episodes of Dexter, CSI, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, The Chicago Code, Justified, Shameless, Longmire, Hawaii Five-0and MacGyver. He would also appear in six episodes of Lost play the role of Bram.

Henke’s career was not limited to television either, as his larger than life presence also made its way to the big screen. One of his first feature film roles was in Space Jamplaying a baseball player opposite Michael Jordan, with other appearances in Gone in 60 seconds, me and you and everyone we know, World Trade Center, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, Pacific Rimand that of M. Night Shyamalan Divide. Of course he also had a role in, you guessed it, draft day. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family at this difficult time.

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