Homeless man's family shocked by viral pic

ADRIAN LOWE
Last updated 16:43 03/12/2012

NYPD kindness 'is the rule'

New York City Police Officer Larry DePrimo presents a barefoot homeless man in New York's Time Square with boots.
BOOTS AND ALL: New York City Police Officer Larry DePrimo presents a barefoot homeless man in New York's Time Square with boots.

Related Links

NYPD officer's kindness sparks online sensation

Relevant offers

World

Man arrested over death of two-year-old Nikki Francis-Coslovich Study confirms that the US is No. 1 in mass shootings, blames 'gun culture' Hillary Clinton says Republicans are like 'terrorist groups' on women's issues Barack Obama says to people of New Orleans: "You inspire me, and America" Internet user claims to have found mystery safe contains $78,000, alcohol, and treasure map Hungry kangaroos on collision course with skifield traffic in Australia Matthew Forti continued to sell drugs to friends after Georgina Bartter's death, court 10 sink holes around the world that have caused serious damaged Judge Vassiliki Thanou sworn in as Greece's first female prime minister Boys unleash a long shot for US president: Bailey D. Dog

The generosity of a New York policeman who gave a pair of boots to a dishevelled, bearded homeless man touched the world.

But it has had a far greater impact on the family of that homeless man, who had all but lost contact with him.

They didn't even recognise his picture, which had gone viral after being captured by a tourist.

He has now been identified as Jeffrey Hillman, 54, but how the man with no shoes became homeless is unknown.

Mr Hillman's brother, Kirk, was stunned when he saw the photo in a newspaper, and was speechless.

His wife did not recognise him on television.

 "The last time we heard from him was maybe a year ago on New Year's Day," Kirk's wife, Tish Hillman, told the New York Post from her home in Pennsylvania.

"Once a year, he calls us to let us know he's OK."

The photo became an internet sensation as it was shared online.

The tourist who took the photo, Jennifer Foster, said the policeman, Larry DePrimo, put socks and the new boots on Mr Hillman's feet and told him: "Let's put these on and take care of you."

The Post reported that Kirk and another brother, Alfred Hillman, had not heard much from Jeffrey, who was described by a neighbour as "a bit lost".

By 1993, he was bankrupt and living in homeless shelters.

Recently, he had not been seen at his regular haunts, which include a liquor store.

His family, though, says he is always welcome at home.

"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, his niece.

"He knows that, he's well aware of that."

Police have not been in contact since the presentation of the boots.

"We're not looking for him. He has shoes now. He's much more difficult to spot," police commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Ad Feedback

- Sydney Morning Herald

Comments

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content