Roy Beekman's once promising basketball career was stalled by drug addiction and then homelessness.
"When you come home and you don't make it and everybody says, 'Oh you should have been a pro!' And when it didn't happen, my addiction got worse and worse and worse," Beekman recalled.
He played for Niagara University after growing up in the Queensbridge Houses and starring at what is now St. John Prep.
"You know, I was playing 24/7. Kids got video games now but all I had was a basketball court!" Beekman recalled.
When his dreams of a pro-basketball career gave way to the day-to-day grind of a working life, he slipped into drug addiction.
It took homelessness, and the near death experience of a heart attack – on the basketball court of all places to make him rethink the path he was on.
Now, 25 years of sobriety later Beekman doesn't play as much as he used to, instead he channels his talents into coaching, both professionally and as a volunteer.
"I started to have a purpose. Because I thought playing was a purpose but now, seeing kids show up all the time and wanting to learn that's where the changes started," Beekman said.
He won championships coaching at Hostos and York colleges, and now works at Nassau Community College.
For the last 12 years, he’s worked with young athletes as a volunteer coach with B.A.C.E. It’s a non-profit, year-round free basketball program in Jamaica, Queens. There he teaches kids the rules of the game while trying to guide them toward a life of success.
"He's always been a voice in my ear. It's always been about 'Am I doing the things I need to do to improve and be successful in my life? Are the things I'm doing at this moment helping me?' That's a big part of his message," said Matt Caputo, a former B.A.C.E. camp athlete.
Beekman says it took a lot of patience to get to this point in his life - something he says he owes to coaching.
"There's no more sitting on the bench drinking beers - and I don't knock people who can do that, I just choose not today. I'd rather be in the gym helping some kids shoot some hoops and learn life," Beekman said.
So for using his past to help future generations, Roy Beekman is our New Yorker of the Week.