Butch: Portraits of the 14th Street Y


There’s so much to tell. I’ve been playing at the 14th Street Y since probably 1970 or so. I’m actually a former basketball player, former coach, and worked at Beth Israel Medical Center as a drug & alcohol therapist for 48 years. I worked in the National Basketball Association with the players, worked in the music business with people who had drug & alcohol problems. There’s so much to tell–there’s too much to remember.

I’ve lived in Stuy Town for 50 years. I know everybody there. They call me “the Mayor of Stuy Town.” I actually just got inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Brooklyn. I coached professionally–a lot of professional basketball players in the summer leagues. Doctor J is one of the greatest players ever, and I coached him. The coaching was volunteer, the therapy paid the bills. I coached over 75 MBA players, and I worked with over 5,000 substance abusers in my career as a therapist. This June, it’ll be 5 years since my retirement. I’m a background actor, and I just finished shooting with Tracy Morgan on his new show “The Last OG,” on Netflix. I met Tracy, Cedric, all those guys. They’re a lot of fun. They’re much younger than me, so I had their ears.

Well, at this age, I’m 72–almost 73, the stationary bike is saving my life. I get on that thing at least 5 times a week. You know, I’m riding, listening to my music while I’m riding, talking to the people that I know. I did two basketball camps back in the 80s. The 14Y is a great experience. For one, it’s very diverse. It wasn’t always that way. There are a lot of good people here–a lot of funny people who will make you laugh all day. It’s good stuff.

The 14th Street Y is special because of the openness. There’s great staff, and they go over and beyond the call of duty, whenever you have a problem they jump right away. The director, Rabbi Shira, is great–without a doubt.

My whole life is community, you know–I’m a community guy, a people person. As long as you give respect, I give it back. Putting basketball aside, just talking to people about life experiences brings me community. I like to talk to people about my life and their lives. I’m passionate about life. I’m a total sports guy–basketball, football, baseball. My son worked with the Yankees and the Brooklyn Nets; he’s a 7 time Emmy winner. He directs the post-game and pre-game shows for the Yankees, and the live telecasts of the Brooklyn Nets games.

I’ve met a lot of good people here. Every nationality, every vocation–a lot of people: cooks, bakers, lawyers, athletes.

Portraits of the 14th Street Y
is a photography project by Bridget Badore that tells the stories behind the many faces of the 14th Street Y community, including members, staff, teachers, trainers, artists, caregivers, families, and local business owners. Each year, the unique stories of more than 20,000 New Yorkers is woven into the fabric that makes the 14th Street Y a Downtown home for all.

Learn more about this exciting photography series here. You can also follow along and support the Downtown Stories on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.