Homeless Man Given Boots By NYC Police Officer Chooses To Go Barefoot Again | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Homeless Man Given Boots By NYC Police Officer Chooses To Go Barefoot Again

"Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money."

With those few words, 54-year-old Jeffrey Hillman says a lot.

The New York Times this morning follows up on one of last week's most poignant stories. Its reporters found the barefoot homeless man who was given a pair of boots by New York City Police officer Lawrence DePrimo — an act of kindness that was captured on camera and afterward ricocheted around the Internet.

The Times says the man is Hillman, who has lived on the streets of the city for most of the past decade. And Hillman, who the Times writes "was by turns aggrieved, grateful and taken aback by all the attention that had come his way," tells the newspaper that he's walking around barefoot again because the boots are too valuable to wear all of the time.

"I could lose my life," he says. Someone might kill him for the footwear.

According to the Times, Hillman says he's an Army veteran and has a "worn veteran's identification card that confirmed his service."

That connection to the military isn't mentioned in a story from the New York Post, which found some of Hillman's family. According to the Post, the homeless man's brother, Kirk Hillman, lives in Allentown, Pa., and is a leader at the city's Greater Shiloh Church. Another brother, Alfred, is a college professor in Texas, according to the Post. It writes that:

"Kirk Hillman, looked stunned as he saw a copy of The Post with his youngest brother on the front page — and was left speechless. Hillman's wife told The Post she followed the story on TV — but never recognized the bedraggled beggar as her own brother-in law, Jeffrey Hillman. 'The last time we heard from him was maybe a year ago on New Year's Day,' said Tish Hillman. ...

" 'Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him,' said Alegra Hall, Kirk Hillman's daughter, a producer in Maryland. 'He knows that, he's well aware of that.' "

This story reminded us of the tale of Ted Williams, the homeless man in Columbus, Ohio, who in January 2011 got national attention for his golden voice. That led to appearances on TV and a job doing voiceovers for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese commercials. He also, though, went in and out of rehab.

As recently as last month, Williams was looking great when he spoke to veterans in Dayton, Ohio. "I hope I can inspire them," he said of the veterans. Williams also said he's writing a book.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Passages' Author Reflects On Her Own Life Journey

Gail Sheehy is famous for her in-depth profiles of influential people, as well as her 1976 book on common adult life crises. Now she turns her eye inward, in her new memoir Daring: My Passages.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go To The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

In San Diego, A Bootcamp For Data Junkies

Natasha Balac runs a two-day boot camp out of the San Diego Supercomputer Center for people from all types of industries to learn the tools and algorithms to help them analyze data and spot patterns in their work.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.