Area basketball icon Don Bryson passes away

Published 12:12 am Saturday, June 3, 2023

BEAUMONT — Lamar University lost one of its all-time greats with the passing of Don Bryson, 80, on Wednesday.

Known for being the first All-American in Lamar basketball history, Bryson was a stylish southpaw who wrapped up a standout career in 1965.

“We are truly saddened by the passing of Don Bryson,” said an LU athletics department spokesman. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Donna and the entire family. When you think of Lamar basketball, Don Bryson is one of the names who comes to mind. He will forever be remembered as one of the first great players to come through this program. This is a very sad day for the entire Lamar Cardinal family.”

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A 1981 Cardinal Hall of Honor inductee, Bryson led the Southland Conference by scoring 533 points (23.2 ppg) and pulling down 343 rebounds (14.9 rpg). He also shot .611 from the field that season.

At the time he graduated, Bryson was the school’s third all-time leading scorer and still ranks 17th all-time in program history and is one of just 21 Cardinals to score 1,000 points in a career.

Bryson also graduated as the school’s all-time leading rebounder (931) and is currently one of just four Cardinals to record 1,000 points and at least 930 rebounds in a career.

A three-year starter, the Cardinals posted a 59-17 (.776) record during his time on the court and guided Big Red to a Lone Star Conference title in 1962-63 and a Southland Conference championship in 1963-64.

Bryson made a return to Beaumont in 1971, where he spent six seasons as an assistant coach for his alma mater.

According to Bryson’s obituary, he continued to “do what it takes” after his playing by becoming a lifelong educator teaching biology and coaching at many Southeast Texas schools including Nederland, Lamar and head basketball coach for Port Neches Groves ISD.

He went on to become the first ever men’s basketball coach at Lamar State College Port Arthur. The men’s basketball program came to life in 2004.

Typical of a new program, the start was slow. He knew how to excel on the court, though.

After two years as an independent, Bryson ushered the Seahawks into the Metro Athletic Conference, where they made the postseason tournament in consecutive seasons.

Just three years later, the program Bryson helped bring to life earned a trip to the NJCAA national tournament.

He is survived by his wife, Donna Bryson of Port Neches; children, Todd Bryson, of Beaumont, and Krin Mackenroth and husband, Mike, of Nederland; and grandchildren. He continued to enjoy sports, watching his two grandchildren Ty Bryson and Cass Bryson, both of Beaumont.