Minneapolis shoe rehab owner can repair anything, including the broken man he once was

James Lileks:

When you leave the shoe-rehabilitation establishment run by one Robert Napoleon Steele the Third, you will walk a bit taller, stride a bit quicker. You’re guaranteed to be well-shod and shiny, for you’ve just visited the Lazarus of Leather. The man who can bring the most battered, hopeless, despairing shoe back to its showroom state.

You might say he did the same for himself. Ask Napoleon about his life story and he might ask which part you want — the stand-up comedian days, or the 19 years on the street, homeless?

“I remember when I was homeless, sleeping in an alley on a stinking mattress, didn’t matter, when you’re homeless, you don’t care how it is,” he said.

“I saw this family coming back from church. I was praying — God, get me off crack. Get me off drugs. And I did! And now I got kids, and it’s ‘Sit down! Boy, leave your brother alone! Don’t set the cat on fire!’ And I think, ‘God, get me back on crack.’ ”