Sydney is of Bahamian descent, yet obtained American citizenship because he born in the US. He was poor for most of his life. He finally moved to New York City on his own where he worked a string of dishwashing jobs. To get into the service, he lied about his age and was enlisted in 1943 to help with the World War II effort. Yet, it was short-lived. He feigned insanity as a mental hospital attendant in order to get discharged.