Corey J. Swinson, a Bay Shore native who made it to the NFL and returned home as a volunteer devoted to making a difference in young people's lives, has died. He was 43.
Family and friends said he died Tuesday at home of natural causes. "He helped everybody," said his brother, Mark Swinson, of Central Islip. "I think the world would be a better place if people could learn to be like he was."
Corey Swinson, whose son is a Bay Shore Middle School student, also coached in a youth football league. He worked as director of school safety and security for Copiague public schools after having served as security director for the Bay Shore district.
"No one was more caring or committed to the young people in our schools than Corey Swinson," said Evelyn Blose Holman, the longtime Bay Shore superintendent who retired in 2011. "He was certainly a role model."
Born and reared in Bay Shore, Swinson graduated from Bay Shore High School in 1988, where he was a standout on the basketball team and played briefly on the football team, his brother said. He went on to study social work and play football at Hampton University in Hampton, Va.
A defensive tackle, he was chosen in the seventh round of the 1995 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins and spent that season with the St. Louis Rams. He enjoyed the game, relatives and friends said, but his greatest loves were his family and his hometown.
"He has a 13-year-old son that meant the world to him and his community was very important to him," said friend James Chalifoux, deputy bureau chief of the Major Crime Bureau for the Suffolk district attorney's office.
After Swinson returned to Bay Shore, he was the district's security director from 2002 to 2012. He coached youth football in the Bay Shore Little Conference Football League.
Grant Hendricks, a friend and fellow youth league coach, said Swinson "treated everybody as if they were his best friend, and the kids really took to that."
Last year, Swinson earned the Special Recognition Award from the Suffolk County Detectives Association. Copiague schools Superintendent Charles A. Leunig said Swinson "became a part of our school family and made his mark throughout the district in a very positive way."
In addition to his brother, Mark, and his son, Messiah, Swinson is survived by his mother, Carrie Bell Swinson of Bay Shore; sisters, Gwendolyn Swinson-Licameli of West Point, Eugenia Swinson of New Rochelle, Pamela Swinson-Ford of Brentwood, Lisa Swinson-Calhoun of New Rochelle and Paula Swinson-Cook of White Plains; brothers, Ernest C. Swinson of Patchogue, David Gregory Swinson of Bay Shore, Matthew Wayne Swinson of Manhattan and Bobby Love of South Carolina.
A wake will be 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Rose's Funeral Home, 1705 Fifth Ave., Bay Shore. Services will be 10 a.m. Monday at First Baptist Church, 175 Second Ave., Bay Shore. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery in Bay Shore.