The New York Times recently found and caught up with Jeffrey Hillman, the formerly anonymous homeless man whose photo spread across the internet after NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo saw him barefoot and gave him a pair of new boots. Hillman was spotted on the Upper West Side, the boots that made him famous nowhere to be found. “Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” he told reporters. “I could lose my life.”
The Times also gave some welcome background information on Hillman, humanizing the man behind the photograph. 54 years old, he is a veteran of the U.S. army who worked in kitchens in New Jersey before becoming homeless. He has two children, aged 22 and 24.
Though grateful for DePrimo’s gift, Hillman was befuddled by the public’s widespread celebration of it. “I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?” he said. “This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.”
“I appreciate what the officer did, don’t get me wrong,” he added. “I wish there were more people like him in the world.”