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TODAY
Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man with the "golden voice," left rehab after less than two weeks in treatment.
TODAY staff
updated 1/25/2011 3:11:50 PM ET 2011-01-25T20:11:50

Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man who became an overnight sensation with his "golden voice," has reportedly left a rehab facility after less than two weeks of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

On Monday, 53-year-old Williams checked himself out of the Origins Recovery Center in Texas against medical advice and headed to the airport, according to websites TMZ and E! Online.

Just 12 days before his departure, Williams had voluntarily entered rehab after taping television segments with Dr. Phil.

During the tapings, Williams reunited with his family members, who alleged that he had been drinking daily despite his claims of sobriety. Williams and Dr. Phil later had a lengthy one-on-one conversation about his addictions.

Before he agreed to enter the medical facility, he and one of his daughters were also detained by police after an alleged family quarrel at a Hollywood hotel. The pair weren't arrested and no charges were filed. Both were released shortly afterward.

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“If Ted is ever going to get better, he’s got to be honest with himself and admit he’s addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Dr. Phil said of Williams’ decision to seek treatment. “I’ve told him it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It might be a long journey for him, but this is a big step in the right direction.”

Video: Listen to Ted Williams' 'golden voice' (on this page)

Sudden rise to fame
Williams' meteoric rise to fame came after a reporter captured the homeless man's voice on a video and posted the clip online. Millions of views later, Williams was featured on TODAY and job offers started pouring in.

He received offers to do announcing work from the Cleveland Cavaliers, a radio station in Hawaii, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and dozens more. He also taped a commercial that aired on msnbc cable television.

Before this unexpected turn of events, Williams had been living on the streets in Ohio for years after drugs and alcohol dragged him into a life of petty crime. His arrest record includes robbery, theft, forgery and drug possession.

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While appearing on TODAY, Williams claimed that he’d been sober for two years. 

A day later, Williams' mother Julia Williams echoed a common worry (on this page) that her son would be so overcome with his sudden celebrity that it could imperil his sobriety.

And Williams himself acknowledged the perils after a backstage conversation with another TODAY guest, psychologist Dale Atkins: “I think I’m going to use her as somewhat of a sponsor and a therapist, because I feel I’m going to need it.”

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Video: ‘Golden-voiced’ man heads to rehab

  1. Closed captioning of: ‘Golden-voiced’ man heads to rehab

    >> let' begin with our trip to rehab for internet sensation, ted williams , the homeless man plucked out of obscurity for that amazing voice. george lewis is in los angeles with more. george, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, meredith. ted williams checked in with friends and said he's headed to rehab at an undisclosed location and talked about being clean and sober and decided to take a time out.

    >> don't forget tomorrow morning is your chance to win a pair of tickets from this man, live in concert .

    >> reporter: ted williams , golden voice and tarnished history.

    >> alcohol and drugs became a part of my life.

    >> reporter: he wound up homeless until a " columbus dispatch " newspaper in ohio put up this web video that went viral in days.

    >> thank you so much.

    >> reporter: one week ago, williams went from the streets of columbus to the "today" show.

    >> great to be here. a dream come true, i'm telling you.

    >> reporter: commercial contracts followed. instant celebrity, who this week reunited with his children on the dr. phil show in hollywood.

    >> my wife and daughters and my son, too much, man.

    >> reporte

    >> from a very short time he goes from one intense reality to another reality, money and famous and talk shows .

    >> reporter: an alcoholic can't handle that kind of extreme reality.

    >> reporter: the family reunion on dr. phil didn't quite turn out as planned.

    >> who ordered the vodka? who ordered the gray goose vodka last night.

    >> reporter: his daughter said he started drinking at this holiday hotel and began arguing with her.

    >> none of it was mine.

    >> he touched me on my jaw.

    >> i got scratched on my face.

    >> reporter: police were called but didn't charge him with a crime. for now, williams says he is going into rehab. he has hired a publicist who released this statement. after consulting with several psychologists and doctors, we all agree it's time to allow private healing to take place.

    >> i think him taking a time-out would be a wonderful thing for him to do. the reality is not many people can handle fame and fortune .

    >> reporter: and for an addict, this roller coaster ride from homelessness to hollywood can be what people in recovery groups call a slippery place. so now ted williams , whose remarkable journey played out in the spotlight has a chance to work on sobriety away from the cameras.

    >> thank you. bill atkins , a psychologist and dr. judy, addiction specialist. good morning to you both. let me start with you. last week, when ted williams was on this show, you were here for another segment.

    >> yes, i was. you did speak to him off-camera and had several phone conversations with him since. i know you cannot share those phone conversation, for somebody like ted, susan boyle, for example who goes from obscurity to instant fame and notoriety, what does that do to somebody already fragile?

    >> that's the point. from somebody alreadyna gill, you're starting with a place that has no foundation. what you really need to do is understand, it can explode and all this happened so quickly and so many people trying to pay attention , perhaps not really to what was best for him. there wasn't really a balance what the opportunities were that were being presented to him of what was good for him for the short and long run. there's a risk and the direct answer to your question is, it's pretty risky business .

    >> there's a slippery place.

    >> there's a very slippery slope . what you're looking at what happened is the big quipicture of fame and fortune but not paying attention to where he came from for him to get to the place he can handle some of this, not all of it. how many people could handle it if they didn't have his background?

    >> he says he had told us he had been clean for the past two years, his daughter what what -- you're shaking your head?

    >> i'm skeptical. i'm often skeptical in situations like this. this is a man with a lifetime of substance abuse and choirms and criminal behavior, theft, forgery, robbery, he may not be telling the truth about many things. it's part of his personality is that he's not necessarily going to be honest.

    >> because of the fact that he's an addict?

    >> because of the fact he's an addict. addiction doesn't happen in a vacuum. he has personality problems and has alienated with his family and mother and you can see in theseventi ventiinterventions when he go t together with his mother they're not really willing to give him a second chance?

    >> his mother was on and was angry with him.

    >> he's burned a lot of bridges.

    >> how important is it for him to mend those fences to lead a life going forward?

    >> it's very important to mend fences and deal with issues that caused some of this disillusion of his relationship. it's not which comes first, the chicken or the egg ? it's all part of the process of trying to get out of the limelight and be able to heal and begin to deal with his own personal issues, some of which have played out with his relationships, so that if you're in a private and personal, protected and safe environment, you can talk about issues that have to do with counseling and your own issues having to deal with addiction and then deal with them. the whole thing being played out in front of the whole world is not really a healthy way to approach this.

    >> did the limelight trigger trigger -- let's say he is being honest, hasn't had a drink in two years, did the limelight trigger drinking his daughter talks about?

    >> addicts relapse when things are going well for them, afraid of failing or being found out a fraud, not comfortable with success, comfortable with chaos and things falling apart . success can trigger a relapse.

    >> there's an opportunity to go-go go-go, without an opportunity to stop and just relax. in this situation, as in many situations, other people are running your life, other people are making decisions for you. you're not even involved in the decision-making process. on the one hand, you feel as though you have control of your life, on the other hand, you have no control of your life. you are trying to make decisions that may be right for you but you don't have the objectivity, you don't have the distance, you don't have any opportunity to take a breath.

    >> literally.

    >> and figure out what's best.

    >> what happens when he gets out of this facility, that's the question?

    >> that's a very important element. when anyone is in recovery, they need to have follow-up, support, a program they can rely on and go to. this is a huge area.

    >> a sponsor, needs a therapist. i don't know if this is his first rehab, may need individual therapy, family therapy , has a lot of work to do. he needs to patch up a lot of relationships and get his life back on track.

    >> the best thing is he will be doing it out of the sot ligpotlight.

    >> we hope.

    >> it is important for this man to build the life he deserves and do what is right for him.

    >> thank you.

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