Silky-Voiced Homeless Man Copes With Sudden Fame
NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) — A homeless man from Ohio who quickly became a celebrity thanks to his smooth announcing voice indicates it’s been challenging dealing with the rush of fame.
“I wanted a nerve pill yesterday, to be honest with you,” Ted Williams said Friday on CBS’ “Early Show.” The 53-year-old recovering addict said a psychologist talked him out of it.
“She said, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to learn to meditate and not medicate,”’ Williams said.
He became famous practically overnight after The Columbus Dispatch posted a web video of him earlier this week.
Williams had found himself on the streets in Columbus after his life was ruined by substance abuse, but he says he has been sober for more than two years.
He appeared on CBS seated in the studio next to his mother, who said their reunion in New York on Thursday was the first time she’d seen her son in person in 10 years.
“I said, ‘Is this my son, my little son–the prodigal son has come back home,”’ said Julia Williams, of Brooklyn.
Video of their initial meeting posted by The Columbus Dispatch shows Ted Williams walking quickly toward his 90-year-old mother in a hotel. Williams says, “Hi, Mommy. Hi, Mommy,” when he sees her.
She covers her face as her son approaches, and he hugs her, saying, “I feel the same way, Mommy.”
“I’m home,” Williams says. “I told you I was coming this year. I don’t look the best, but I’m home.”
At the reunion, he wore a camouflage jacket over clothes that he told his mother are all that he owns and said he just finished doing a commercial for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese that is to air Sunday during the Fight Hunger Bowl on ESPN.
Williams recorded voiceover promos Thursday for MSNBC’s Lean Forward campaign, and the spots were to begin running immediately, network spokeswoman Tanya Hayre said. He was being paid for the spots, Hayre said, but she declined to say how much.
Williams also taped an appearance on the NBC late-night show hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon, who told him his voice “is golden.” Williams recounted his tale of discovery while panhandling on the streets of Columbus, joked about his fondness for “Today” host Matt Lauer and became teary-eyed when he discussed recording his first commercial for Kraft.
Williams told CBS on Friday that he’s seriously considering accepting a job with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ve offered him a position that could include announcing work their arena.
“I do adore the Cavs, you know–with or without LeBron,” he said, referring to Cavs’ former star LeBron James, who bolted last year for the Miami Heat. Williams also said working in Cleveland would put him close to his children and grandchildren in Columbus.
The week has been a whirlwind for the golden-voiced Williams, who had gotten by living in shelters and occasionally with family and friends over the past few years. Williams also has been in his share of legal trouble. He has served time in prison for theft and forgery and has been cited with numerous misdemeanors, including drug abuse.
He was most recently arrested on May 14. He pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge. In court records, his address is listed as “Streets of Columbus.”
Williams has said during interviews this week that he turned to crime so he could afford his drug habit.
Upon learning of Williams’ criminal history, the Cavaliers said their offer still stands.
Williams said his life began spiraling downward in 1996, when he began drinking alcohol “pretty bad.” He used marijuana and cocaine and lost interest in his radio career. He wound up on the streets despite the best efforts of his children, seven daughters and two sons, who live in the Columbus area.
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