Marshall Henderson became a sensation last season for a number of reasons — he made Ole Miss basketball relevant, which is not an easy thing to do; his antics on the court made him perfect GIF material; and he had a habit of making sure that his hard-partying ways ended up on social media as often as possible.
More than anything, it was the latter that got him in trouble, as his “White Girl Wednesday” tweets and a bad habit of taking drunk pictures with fans (including during the Rebels’ NCAA tournament run) turned him into a spectacle. Combine that with a past that was easily accessible to reporters, and all of a sudden all of Henderson’s dirty laundry was out in the open.
That much may have been a secret if Henderson hadn’t shot to internet stardom as the wildest player in college hoops. If he remained Marshall Henderson instead of turning himself into @NativeFlash22, would his every move have been chronicled by every blog on the internet?
And, in the same vein, would his suspension from the team this summer have spawned columns from every national writer and been a national talking point if he had simply been a kid that could score with a troubled past?
Which brings me to this weekend. Henderson was snapped in a couple of pictures (here and here) that made their way onto Instagram and Twitter during a tailgate for Saturday’s Ole Miss football game against Southeast Missouri State. In the pictures, he’s holding a red solo cup in his hand, and while there’s no way to know what he is actually drinking in those pictures, this picture from late August, of Henderson drinking a Coors Light while on a boat, doesn’t do much to support the theory that he’s given up boozing cold turkey.
(I reached out to Ole Miss, and while they confirmed that it is Henderson in those pictures, they said that his status with the team has not changed and that they had no additional comments on his suspension.)
And therein lies the problem.
At the end of the day, a college kid that’s of age drinking at a football game tailgate on while out on a boat in the middle of a lake is hardly a bad thing, even if it is an athlete. This is the offseason. If Henderson didn’t have a history, than these pictures wouldn’t be worth commenting, unless it was to ask him whether a haircut is forthcoming.
But Henderson does have a history.
A long one.
One that led me to write this column back in July, before his suspension, about coming to a crossroad in his carer.
One that involves cocaine, weed, plenty of drinking and the school reaching out to Chris Herren, the former Fresno State and Boston College star that has turned a life of addiction into one of motivational speaking.
I don’t know if Henderson is an addict — the school reaching out to Herren can lead one to believe that his issues with substance abuse aren’t minor — but whatever the case may be, with his past, going out and drinking does not seem like the best idea.
And allowing pictures to be taken with a drink in hand seems like one of the worst ideas he’s ever had.
I don’t know the details of Henderson’s suspension. I don’t know the plan that Andy Kennedy was referring to in this article, written by Mike DeCourcy.
But I’m guessing reverting back into @NativeFlash22 was not involved in those plans.