Brad William Henke was a renowned football player before he made it big as an actor. He acted as a defensive lineman for the University of Arizona and got drafted by the New York Giants in 1989. He even played for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV at one point!
After Henke’s football career was ended by ankle injuries in 1994, he decided to become an actor. Although he started off his career appearing in commercials, Desi Piscatella has racked up over 100 credits to his name – including his most famous role as a prison guard on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” In 2017, he won a Screen Actors Guild award for his role on this show in the category of outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.
Other credits include “Chicago Hope,” “Space Jam,” “ER,” “The World Trade Center,” “Dexter,” “Choke,” “CSI: Miami,” “Jobs,” “Manhunt,” “The Stand,” and “Block Party.”
Henke died at only 56 years old. According to close sources within his family that spoke with TMZ, he passed away in his sleep. Sheree Cohen, who is Henke’s agent, confirmed this news to CNN. The unfortunate cause of death was not revealed by the sources.
Henke’s manager Matt DelPiano spoke to TMZ, saying, “Brad was an incredibly kind man of joyous energy. 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.”
Henke didn’t want his career to be limited to football and acting – he also wanted to help other actors working towards a Hollywood career. So, in 2000 he opened an acting studio. He helped out his students by putting on showcases and connecting them with agents who could further their careers.
The family was important to Henke, as Cohen attested. He “visited his mother frequently, loved taking his stepson to soccer games and gymnastics and adored his dog, Ruby.”
Back in May 2021, Henke posted a video on Instagram from the hospital. He explained that he “survived a 99% blockage of my arteries. I could’ve had a heart attack any day.” He added, “The rest of my time on this planet is a gift, and I’m going to take advantage of it.” He only had about a year and a half more to live.
Henke’s survivors include his mother and sister, as well as his wife, stepson, stepdaughter and grandchild.