Ted Williams almost didn’t make it to the “Today” show on Thursday. The most famous man in America over the last few days (sorry, Speaker Boehner) nearly couldn’t get on a plane from Columbus, Ohio, because he no longer has a photo ID. But he made it.
The “Homeless Man With the Golden Voice” returned to his native New York City to sit down with Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira to share his harrowing journey from successful radio man to drug addict to his remarkable comeback following a video interview this week with a local newspaper that has swiftly changed his life.
Ted Williams Kicks Off “Today” with His “Golden Voice”
Williams, 53, said this was his first trip to New York, where he grew up in Brooklyn, since 1986. He recalled taking his then-girlfriend to Times Square to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.
“I was doing fairly well then,” he said. At the time, he was working in radio, but in 1993, drugs and alcohol took hold of his life. “I started snorting cocaine and then I started smoking it, crack and all that. Drinking … has always been a part of my life.”
Williams said he believed at the time that he was a “functional alcoholic” despite drinking about a whole bottle (“a fifth”) each day. But in 1993, he lost his home and started living in homeless shelters.
He choked up when he spoke about his mother, who he hopes to reunite with while visiting New York. “I love my mom,” he said. “I always used to pray to God, saying, ‘Lord, please let my mom live to see another year. Maybe this will be a year that somebody would say, ‘Hey man, you want a job?”
“And I always used to say, ‘God, you never seemed fit to take my voice in spite of all the flames and everything that went down my throat.’ The voice still maintained some type of resonance.”
The theme of faith continued throughout the interview, and when Lauer asked Williams whether he was “emotionally ready to … do the right things with this second chance,” he made it clear. “This time around, Matt, I have God,” he said.
“The differences between my successes of years gone by, I didn’t acknowledge the Lord or thank Him for anything before, you know. I had some great opportunities of emceeing various venues and having a great time with all the perks of radio, but I never once said ‘O Lord thank you for this.’”
Williams also confirmed reports that he has had several run-ins with the law, including arrests for robbery, theft and forgery. “That was just to afford the drug habit,” he humbly explained.
But since becoming a viral video star, things have quickly improved for him. Williams was contacted Wednesday by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, who offered him a position that could include announcing work at their arena. Details are still being worked out, and Williams has not officially accepted.
“They said they were going to give me LeBron’s house,” he joked.
He also said that Kraft Foods has offered him some work doing voice-overs for their macaroni and cheese products.
The influx of income will certainly be a boon for his large family. Williams told ‘Today’ that he has nine adult children — seven girls and two boys — as well as grandchildren.
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