Roger “Buster” Bryant was the most important man in East Harlem for all the years of his life. His office was the Dunlevy Milbank Center of the Children’s Aid Society, known to one and all as “the Bank” and home to a generation of people like Pee Wee Kirkland, Cliff Moller, Carl Crump, Kelsey Stevens-the list is endless.
Buster was a Renaissance man before the term became a common part of the English language. During his lifetime, Buster touched thousands of lives. On the real side, most of them were athletes or just hung around the gym. He had the magic touch-and some other toys we can’t mention, toys he didn’t hesitate to use if you came up on the shaky side of him.
He was a breed apart. He didn’t have a doctorate degree. He didn’t have a pocket full of money. We knew that because we never heard any change jingling in his pocket.
What few bucks he had were spent on those smelly-ass cigars he chewed on when buses filled with some of the biggest names in New York City basketball went to wage war with the likes of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, Atlantic City and Ocean City.
Buster rode those buses, and everyone knew better than to park his or her butt in that front seat opposite the driver-that was Buster’s office.
As sure as Joe Scott continues his legacy with the Roger “Buster” Bryant Youth Event, we can still smell those smelly cigars.