“You gotta be a football hero to get along with the beautiful girls…”
Well, that helps but you combine that with a killer smile, an outsized personality and Hollywood good looks – whatcha got is Malden High School sophomore James Hyppolite, this week’s Malden Musings Celebrity Spotlight. His contribution on Turkey Day 2022 helped score an impressive Thanksgiving Day victory over ancient MHS arch rival, Medford High School. The future looks bright for this young man.
Malden Recreation Director Joe Levine, his wife Helen and daughter Dorothy have taken young James under their collective wings. When Dorothy speaks, we listen: “About 5-6 years ago, my dad called me and said, ‘Dorothy you got to meet this kid James I just met’. Something about my dad’s first encounter with him made a lasting impression. Then every week for a few months my dad said the exact same thing ‘you gotta make time to come meet James.’ I headed to Green Street where I met James after his basketball game. A young skinny 5th grader with a smile that lit up a room, from that moment I knew he was something special. They do not make kids like him anymore; he is a combination of Wiston Jeune and Witche Exilhomme with his own little spark. Not many kids have as much passion and motivation as James does. James has not had the easiest life, but you would never know by talking to him. He makes every single person feel special with his rapport.
“One of my favorite recent memories of James was after the Malden/Medford Thanksgiving game at Fenway. He arrived back at the stadium, Joan Santo (bus driver) got off the bus first to congratulate every kid, most kids said thank you and kept moving. James (who would not let go of the trophy) got off the bus and thanked her but stopped and asked her to take a picture with him and the trophy. The look in Joan’s face was priceless.
“One more thing, this year Malden/Medford had a unified flag football game. I could not attend, but received messages that James really stood out as a leader that day. James was interviewed by the media and unfortunately, his clip was cut out. I asked him if he was upset, he said, ‘no, I’m just happy the unified students got to speak, and they enjoyed their day.’ He then told me someone from Medford told him he is going to be a great leader someday; little did that person know James is already emerging as great leader at just 16 years old.
“James just knows how to make everyone feel included and special. James’s loyalty is unmatched. Malden is a better city for having James in it; he holds all his friends accountable while making each of them a better person. His future is bright, and I am excited to be there for every step along the way. Sky’s the limit.”
Let’s hear from James himself:
- My full name is… James Hyppolite.
- I am currently… wrestling at the high school and working out with the best coach in the state, Witche Exilhomme.
- I am saving up… to get a house in Texas with (brother) Kevin. Our childhood dream is to get a house together.
- My home is in… Malden.
- I love people who… genuinely love me.
- Something I say a lot is… “what the word man!”
- I consider myself to be… a loving, caring person.
- I need to have… my family and friends in my life because they are what motivates me to keep working hard every day.
- My favorite movie of all time is… ‘Love & Basketball.’
- My all-time role model is… Witche Exilhomme! Witche has such a pure heart, and he shows me you can accomplish anything in life if you put your mind [to it], since the 7th grade he has been there for me, and I love and appreciate that man a lot.
- I respect people who… respect me and I also respect people who respect themselves because without self-respect you have no value.
- The best thing anyone has ever said to me is… “work hard to make life easy.” (Thank you Coach Witche.)
- I am happy when… I am with the people I love. What makes me truly happy is seeing others around me happy.
- I find my brother (Kevin) very funny – whenever I am mad, he makes me laugh.
- I am not named after anybody in particular.
- My favorite coach(es) are… Witche Exilhomme and Winston Juene because they are both great mentors and leaders. They are very funny, and I love being around them.
- The farthest I have ever been from home… is being here in the United States.
- My special talents are… seeing the good in people and putting a smile on their faces. That means the world to me.
- I have (no) pets.
- I played sports as a youngster at… Coytemore Lea and Green Street Parks. Shout out to Joe Levine and Malden Rec!
Reasons to be cheerful; My recent article honoring the life of Water Wishoski and the neighborhood watering hole he commanded for many years (Mike’s Café) was a big hit for many. Numerous Maldonians commented on Walter and his gentlemanly, no-nonsense demeanor. He was loved by all and by the response to the article, will be missed. Patrick McCarron was one of those that lit up social media with Walter/Mike’s Café talk: “My father and my uncle, greatest generation guys were regulars at Mike’s throughout the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s. When I turned 20 me and my pal decided to check Mike’s out. This would turn out to be Ill advised as once I told my father about it, he told me in no uncertain terms to ‘stay the hell out of there.’ I remember that ‘fondly.’ That was their place and that was all there was to it. I still laugh at how mad he got. Those fellows are long gone now but I do remember him mentioning Walter affectionately and I even had a few of those cheese on dark rye bar sandwiches when I was a youngster. May he rest in peace. These recollections you write are always enjoyable and important. By the way my pal on the Mike’s adventures was Bill Mini’s son. Bill was another fine man you’ve remembered. I miss all of them.”
You can never get enough Bob Rotondi. With that said I bring to you, “Diamond Dust” by Bob Rotondi (circa 2012):
- Malden High School defeated Medford High in a 1958 baseball game, 7-6 at Pearl Street Stadium. The game went 13 innings with a substitute sophomore, Curt McComis, driving home the deciding run with a ground-rule double. McComis, a left-handed former Little League ace with the Central League Tigers, went on to have an outstanding high school career.
- On May 17,1960, Malden High School’s baseball team defeated Chelsea, 1-0, for their seventh straight victory. Malden’s left handed ace Larry Culleton pitched a two-hitter and knocked in the game’s only run with a first inning single. The New York Yankees were in pursuit of Culleton until a sore arm shelved the portsider’s promising career.
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character “Columbo” would say “Just one more thing, sir” – I walked through the Square last week on my way to Cornucopia for a delightful chicken parm sub. Although the Granada and Strand Theatres are greatly missed as well as Grant’s, Kresge’s, Charlie Browne’s Bar & Grille, Jennie’s Pizza, Woolworths, Sizzleborg, the Y, the Horseshoe Bar & Grille, the Kernwood, the 99, Walt’s Gun Shop, Jack Haney’s, Roli Music, Charles Gifts, the Daylight Bowling Alley, the Auld New, Tom McCann’s, the Centre Bar & Grille, Louie Klane’s, Brigham’s, Lichy’s Deli, Signor Pizza, No Where’s End, Jack’s Music, Jordan Marsh, and Sparks – I am still so much loving and have much confidence in downtown Malden’s new look! The fabulous vibe the Square now gives off can be felt throughout the eight Wards. You can feel the energy and excitement that the many younger and culturally diverse residents have brought to the area. The infrastructure upgrade was amazing to watch. Combined with the majestic First Baptist Church and the Davenport Estate, you have the perfect combination of old school meets new school. Live music at Face’s & Hugh O’Neill’s. Floramo’s Restaurant. The best Pan-Asian food on the North Shore at All Season’s Table. Throw in the many gaming establishments that have adopted Malden, and we’ve become the envy of each and every one of our neighbors. Enjoy the renaissance, Maldonians, it was a long time coming.
—Peter is a long-time Malden resident and a regular contributor to the Malden Advocate. He can be reached at PeteL39@aol.com for comments, compliments or criticisms.