New York police officer Lawrence DePrimo was celebrated in print and on TV last week for an act of kindness when he gave a barefoot homeless man a pair of US$100 ($121) boots on a bitterly cold November night in Times Square.
The image was captured by Jennifer Foster and became an instant hit on Facebook. Now the New York Times has tracked down the shoeless man and found him still shoeless.
Jeffrey Hillman told the paper: "Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life."
Hillman, 54, was by turns aggrieved, grateful and taken aback by all the attention, the newspaper said.
"I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?" But he added: "I appreciate what the officer did, don't get me wrong. I wish there were more people like him in the world. I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost." Hillman said he came to New York about a decade ago and had been on the streets most of that time. He is a former soldier. When asked how his life went off course he shook his head and said "I don't know."