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Video: Homeless man with golden voice ‘thankful to be here’

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    >>> turnaround for ted williams . as we said, we will duke him about his rough life, his golden moment thanks to his golden voice in just a moment, but first, nbc's kevin tibbles has his story.

    >> reporter: he was just another beggar by the highway, but his sign said "i have a god-given gift of voice." so the reporter from the " columbus dispatch " took a chance.

    >> say something with that great radio voice.

    >> when our yes listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you are listening to magic 98.9.

    >> reporter: within hours that video went viral, way viral, millions of hits on youtube alone.

    >> nothing has quite stuck like this has.

    >> reporter: his name is ted williams , 53, from brook listen as team, he fell in love with broadcasting after a chance meeting with a local dejail.

    >> he said to me, listen, radio is the theater of mind.

    >> reporter: but --

    >> alcohol and drugs and a few other things became a part of my life.

    >> reporter: he says he is clean now, but spent the last decade on the streets.

    >> every weekday morning.

    >> perfect, man.

    >> reporter: from the side of the road to inside the studios of local radio , where many callers offered williams employment, even a mortgage.

    >> i just didn't know anything like that could have happened.

    >> reporter: nba's cleveland cavaliers offered him a job.

    >> we loved his voice. we loved his story. and our biggest priority right now is just to get him in here.

    >> reporter: but before ted williams did anything else, he paid the "today" show a visit first thing this morning and helped get our day started in the voice booth. now, that's set of pipes. for "today," kevin tibbles, nbc news.

    >> live from studio 1a in rockefeller plaza .

    >> ted williams , good morning, sir.

    >> how are you?

    >> great to have you.

    >> it is great to be here. this is a dream come true. i'm telling you. honestly.

    >> second chance.

    >> yes, ma'am.

    >> yeah. can you begin to even sum up what these last 48 hours or so have been like?

    >> outrageous. outrageous. 23 it is just phenomenal no way in the world that i could have ever imagined that, that i would be -- just have all of this just all of a sudden just come into this portion of my life.

    >> you were panhandling?

    >> yeah.

    >> two days ago three, days ago?

    >> yeah. yeah w.

    >> on the streets of columbus ohio , your nee new york city now and on national television.

    >> isn't that something? i'm still just -- i'm telling you --

    >> it's got to be a little --

    >> unbelievable.

    >> process it even?

    >> yes. yes, ma'am.

    >> you almost didn't make it here, right? you had problems?

    >> some how the flight got delayed and everything and then, you know --

    >> didn't you need papers to prove who.

    >> i had to get an i.d., the i.d. situation, yes, ma'am we had to go all the way downtown and get a proof of residency. i had to go to a couple homeless shelters to get that filled out. and then i had to get a court injunction to prove who i was, you know, date of birth and all, 'cause i didn't have any i.d. or nothing.

    >> right.

    >> you mentioned new york is your home?

    >> brooklyn, new york .

    >> brooklyn, new york ?

    >> yeah, bedford styvesant area, born and raised.

    >> how long has it been since you have been here and been in contact with some family members?

    >> 1986 is the last time i actually set foot right here. i watched the ball come down. i took my -- the mother of my two boys and we came and this was the first time she had ever been here and that was -- i was doing fairly well then. you know, i was working in radio and all, but she never been here.

    >> so, what happened, ted? you say in '86 you were doing well, working in radio.

    >> and in 1993 -- ms. meredith --

    >> that's okay.

    >> trucks and alcohol, i started snorting cane and then i started smoking it crack and all that and then drinking. alcohol has always been a part of my life. my parents used to travel down to st. thomas, so i did have an alcohol problem at an early -- but i was a functional alcoholic, at that point, i thought.

    >> how bad did it get?

    >> pretty bad i was drinking like a fifth a day. but i was working. you know, i was doing well. i was really doing well. at least i thought, you know?

    >> was it the drugs then that took you down?

    >> yes, ma'am. yes, ma'am.

    >> when did you lose your home? i mean, when did you --

    >> in '93, that wasn't pits -- my life just went to the pits, i was at the homeless shelters in columbus and then i was going to -- i was introduced to program of recovery.

    >> you know, i noticed something in that video that we have all now seen so many times that was on the internet and went reporter for the " columbus dispatch " comes up to you and starts asking you about your voice, despite your hard times there is this civility to you, ted there is this kindness. there is this grace about you. thank you, sir, god bless you, where does that come from?

    >> hey, moo my mom. my mom has raised me that way, to always be polite, treat people as you would want them to treat you, you snow do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. the golden rule , as she always put it.

    >> you mentioned your mom repeatedly.

    >> love my mom and i -- here comes maybe some tears, but i always used to pray to god, i'm telling you, religiously, say, lord, please let my mom live to see another year, maybe this will be the year that somebody would, you know, say, hey, man, do you want a job or anything. but -- and i always used to say, god, you never seen fit to take my voice, in spite of all the flames and everything that went down my throat, the voice still maintains some type of resonance. and so, when i got out there with the sign, it gave me a chance to, you know, the public passing. good morning, thank you. and people would roll their windows down. then it became a situation where the same people that would give me money, they would just come by just to see if i was still there so they could hear me say, you know, listen to more of the best music , and i started using local talent.

    >> so your mom has lived long enough to see what is going to be, we hope, redemption.

    >> yeah.

    >> i hope you understand what i say. meredith and i were talking before the show and we both worry a little that a lot is happening very quickly.

    >> he yes. yes.

    >> and some people might find that hard to deal with. and so are you emotionally ready to accept this second chance, to do the right things with this had second chance?

    >> this time around, matt, i have god, god of my understanding in my life. acknowledging him on a daily basis, which i've been doing this past year, because i was ready to mark 2010 as another year wasted, until i realized that in 2010 , i found a new sense of spirituality. now, i'm not saying i have become, you know, born again-type person to where i'm going around but i do want to say that the difference between my successes of years gone by, i didn't acknowledge the lord or thank him for anything before, you know? and i have had some great opportunities of emsig various ven news and having a great time with all the perks that radio had, you know? but i never not once said, oh, lord, thank you for this or thank you for another day or forgive me for this you about this time around, i'm acknowledging him in all my ways.

    >> so that you can make it?

    >> yes, sir. yes, sir.

    >> i think we would be remiss if we didn't ask you about reports that beyond the drugs and alcohol, there were run-ins with the law?

    >> yes. yes.

    >> can you tell us about that? we heard about robbery, forgery?

    >> yes. yes. well, the robberies and all have been broken down and anything, i have never stuck -- no violent crimes at all, it was all theft and fraud-type things and that was just to afford the drug habits and so forth. but i ended up -- the judges have been lenient, you know, because my -- you know, like, okay, let's do this to him. and i never got anything of any serious time or anything, but i did go behind -- you know, bench fences with baushd wire and so forth. have you had a chance, ted to stop and think about what is being offered to you now people want you to do voiceovers for them? the cleveland cavaliers have offered you a job, films and --

    >> maybe you can help us now.

    >> they said they are going to give me lebron's old house.

    >> you are really working them, man.

    >> how about --

    >> no.

    >> have you had a chance to even think about what you would like to do?

    >> they are coming in so fast but i do want to say that i did have one with offer here in new york , the fine people at kraft macropeny and cheese have offered me to be their official voice of their product. so when i leave here today, i will be doing some voices for the fine people of kraft .

    >> how would you pitch their product?

    >> when you're looking for a cheesy product, a very delicious macaroni and cheese , choose kraft . but i do just want to say one more thing that this is -- man, you two guys and the lovely ann curry and al rocker and all that man, i'm telling you, i watch "today" show religiously, ever since office kid, gene shalit , brian gumble , jane pauley and that and you guys replaced those people the best, the best.

    >> thank you. thank you.

    >> i'm glad i got that, got that out.

    >> let in with one question w.

    >> yes.

    >> we sit down with you, ted, five years from today --

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> what are you going to be doing?

    >> homely a program director somewhere or -- i will have my own apartment, i will say that. and you know, my kids will have love from me. you know, i'll say, hey, meredith and matt, you know, the kids are over here and this, that i do want to say hello to my children in columbus.

    >> how many kid?

    >> i have seven garmsd two boys.

    >> seven girls and two boys?

    >> yes. yes and they are all adults. and i have grandchildren. way and the to say hi -- can i say hello?

    >> yeah.

    >> mark henderson , very instrumental in helping me he with a place to live and i want to say hi to jimmy, jimmy cotrell, my girlfriend, katie, and my children, julie, general neigh, tricia, tan gel la, keshia and my son, desmond and tyrell and my mom, where with ever she is at, you know, i miss her so much, i just want to.

    >> i'm sure you will get see her?

    >> yes, ma'am.

    >> you also have a greater appreciation for the homeless as well?

    >> truly, truly, please.

    >> anything we need to understand?

    >> please, please, don't judge a book by its cover. everybody has their own little story, you know? and the next -- if you are going to give if you are going to give to any homeless person , give from the heart and said, oh, i know they are not going to do nothing but give this from drugs and alcohol. and i want to say hi to al battle, the gentleman standing hind the camera, he is the one handling -- fielding all the calls coming in like you said, matt, they are coming in by the dozens, i don't know which one to choose, which one is the right one, which one is bogus or anything and i'm thankful to be here and taking one step at a time.

    >> well, you should.

    >> "today" show, take advantage of all of this. thanks, ted, so much.

    >> thank you so much.

    >> good luck.

    >> god bless .

    >> congratulations.

    >> see you in five years, right? program director ?

    >> yes, ma'am.

    >> we are working for you remember us.

    >> yes, i will. yes, i will.

    >> say let's get a check of the weather now from al. guy head.

    >> now, it's time to get a check of the weather with al.

    >> you know, i want him to do the sunday night

TODAY.com
updated 1/5/2011 9:31:57 PM ET 2011-01-06T02:31:57

Ted Williams appeared on TODAY on Thursday. Click here to read a story and watch videos about his appearance.

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An Internet video of a homeless man showing off his self-described “God-given gift of a great voice” has landed him a spot on a local radio show, a dream job with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a house.

Video: Homeless man with golden voice ‘thankful to be here’ (on this page)

“The Cleveland Cavaliers just offered me a full-time job and a house! A house! A house!” Ted Williams said while appearing on a morning radio show in Columbus, Ohio, called “Dave and Jimmy.”

Williams was offered the job and free home by a caller to the show who said she represented the Cavaliers, the New York Post reported.

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Williams was flying to New York Wednesday night for a reunion with his 92-year-old mother, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and an appearance on the "TODAY Show," NBC confirmed. Earlier, the website TMZ reported that airport officials would not let him board a plane because he didn't have proper ID.

A reporter from the Columbus Dispatch came across Williams while he was panhandling near Interstate 71 recently. A sign he carried explained that he was a former radio announcer who had fallen on hard times.

Video: Listen to Williams’ ‘golden voice’ (on this page)

“Any help will be gratefully appreciated,” the sign read.

The roadside interview with Williams that appears on YouTube shows that he isn’t exaggerating: His delivery is as smooth as that of announcers heard on radio or television. The popularity of the “the voice” video has soared on the Web, attracting coverage in the Post and on television news.

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Williams said he grew up in Brooklyn, and at 14 took a field trip to a radio station. While there, he was struck by the fact that one of the on-air announcers looked nothing like he sounded. “Radio is defined ‘theater of mind,’ ” the announcer told him.

Williams was hooked. He said it took years to develop his voice, and he also went to school for training.

“Alcohol and drugs — and a few other things — became my life,” Williams admitted, but added that he has “been two years clean.”

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