On Thursday, June 19, 2008, Bennie Swain passed away at the age of 78 after battling a long illness with cancer.
Swain was selected 8th overall in the 1958 NBA draft by the Boston Cetics. He was the 2nd African American player (behind Sam Jones) to hail from an HBCU and be selected in the 1st round. In his rookie year he seved as Bill Russell's backup as part of the team's 1958-59 championship winning season while averaging 4.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG.
The Texas Southern alum was 1st team All-Southern Western Conference (now SWAC) in all 4 years, a 3-year All-NAIA, and was 3rd in scoring in all of college basketball history during that time. In Swain's senior year his team was defeated in the NAIA tournament by 3-time champions Tennesse State, the team whose coach, John McLendon, was personally mentored by Dr. James Naismith and whose roster included 4 NBA draftees, Dick Barnett, Ben Warley, George Finley, and John Barnhill .
Swain was a physical education / biology major at Texas Southern and went on to become a teacher and high school basketball coach after suffering a career ending knee injury after just one year with the Celtics.
Bennie Swain is remembered by his family as a loving father and the best cook in the house. He is survived by his wife, 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
The Draft Review remembers Bennie Swain.