A simple act of kindness turned into an internet sensation when NYPD Officer Lawrence “Larry” DePrimo gave a pair of boots to a barefoot homeless man on a cold night in Time Square. The moment was photographed by a tourist and has since become a beloved symbol of kindness, and the New York Times has caught up with the man DePrimo selflessly aided.
The barefoot man who has been seen on televisions, in newspapers and on the internet is named Jeffrey Hillman, he is from South Plainfield, N.J., he’s been in Manhattan for about a decade, and was reportedly barefoot when the Times ran into him.
“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Hillman said about his $100 boots in an interview with the Times on Broadway in the 70s. “I could lose my life.”
Hillman received the boots from Officer DePrimo at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 when the policeman realized he was barefoot in the cold. They were purchased form a nearby Sketchers shoe store.
The 54-year-old homeless man allegedly didn’t know what to do with his new found fame in recent weeks.
‘I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?” the Times reports he said. “This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.”
Hillmann stressed the point that he was grateful for the generous act of Officer DePrimo.
“I appreciate what the officer did, don’t get me wrong,” he said, according to the Times. “I wish there were more people like him in the world.”
Apparently, Hillman is one of the many homeless veterans living in the United States. He told the Times that he joined the Army in 1978 and served as “food service specialist” in the United States and Germany which was confirmed by a veteran’s ID he had on him.
After five years serving in the military, he worked in kitchens throughout New Jersey. He was reluctant to discuss how he became homeless and eventually replied “I don’t know.”
The Times claims that he has a strained relationship with his children Nikita, 22, and Jeffrey, 24, who he hasn’t seen in three years.
“I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing,” Hillman said to the Times. “I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost.”
In an official statement, Officer DePrimo said: “"I didn't think anything of it," referring to his thoughtful gift to Hillman.