Unbridled and Unabashed
Firefighter Tarel Coleman's friends, co-workers and football teammates called him "Prozac." Not because he took the mood-balancing drug, but because sometimes he needed to calm down a little.
While many people have a childhood story involving matches, Firefighter Coleman's firebug past cost him some hair. At 5, he stuck his head into the incinerator in his family's apartment building in Queens. "We didn't notice anything," Firefighter Coleman's brother, John Coleman Jr. , also a firefighter, "until we got upstairs and saw that he had no eyebrows, no eyelashes and no hairline."
His chattiness and high-strung curiosity were viewed as charm by his friends. Whenever he prepared a lasagna dinner for his mother, Laurel Jackson, in her Jamaica, Queens, home, she would just watch her son patiently, with her head propped on her hand. "You couldn't stop him," she said. "You had to sit there and listen."
Firefighter Coleman, 32, had an intensity that was viewed with dread by his team's opponents and by the referees of the league games he played for the Fire Department.
Everyone knew, after all, that he did not suffer bad calls gladly.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 10, 2001.