It was just another day for homeless man Ted Williams. He was working the streets of Columbus, Ohio when his life took a sudden turn. On January 3, 2011, Doral Chenoweth a videographer for the local newspaper,The Columbus Dispatch saw him standing on a street corner with a “will work for food.” She had seen this man before, working the same corner, but on this day she set out to find out what caused his financial hardships. What Williams got was a golden ticket to fame that he never saw coming.
How His World All Fell Apart
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Ted Williams told Chenoweth about his life. He told her how he had proudly served his country for three years in the United States Army where he was honorably discharged due to health issues. Williams attended school for voice acting after becoming inspired by a radio announcer after a field trip when he was 14 years old. He became the father of seven girls and two boys. However, soon his life would change for the worse.
Ted William’s downward spiral began in 1986. He soon turned to drugs and alcohol. The result cost him his career and before he knew it he was being evicted from his home. The eviction caused him to sink into a deep depression and he began experimenting with harder drugs. He was evicted and had no place to go and in 1994, Ted Williams was homeless. His poor life choices landed him in jail seven times for charges including criminal trespassing, drugs, robbery, theft, forgery, solicitation and more. Despite suffering from both depression and drug addiction, deep down inside Ted Williams still held hope.
15 Minutes of Fame
During the interview, Williams told Chenoweth how he took voice lessons. It was always his dream to be a radio broadcaster. He loved his voice, but the years of depression and drug abuse had left him with very little desire or belief in himself. Chenoweth asked him to show her what he could do with that voice. The video that was released to the world showed Williams getting money from those passing by, as he attempted to do a demo for the Columbus Dispatch employee. At the end of the video, Williams told his amazing story. Chenoweth put the video on YouTube to share with the world.
The Voice They All Wanted
What happened next was incredible. People from all over the globe were watching the video. Williams gained a ton of attention through Youtube, Facebook and other social channels with users offering clothes, money and more. The job offers started rolling in. He was interviewed on the Today show, hired by Kraft Foods to do their voice-over campaigns and only seven days after his interview, a fundraiser website called “Ted Williams Your Voice” was setup to support Williams.
He went from a bum on the street to being the man everyone wanted.
So Many Jobs So Little Time
Two days later after his interview with Chenoweth, Williams did an interview on Columbus’s Morning Zoo radio program. On January 6, he was on NBC in New York City doing the Today Show, also on this day, Kraft foods called him and wanted him to do a commercial for their products. By the 10th, the “Ted Williams Your Voice” fundraiser was in full swing. He received many job offers within the first week. The first official offer came from the Cleveland Cavaliers. They not only offered him a job, but they also offered him a home. MSNBC hired him on January 7, 2011, to do voice over work for their agency. As a part of the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl, Kraft Foods hired him too.
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Old Habits Die Hard
All of the media attention became overwhelming for Ted. It brought many blessings, but it also brought back many old habits. After years of sobriety, in 2008, Williams relapsed and began drinking again. In a candid interview with Dr. Phil, he agreed to go to Origins Recovery Center in Texas. After 12 days in the program, Williams checked himself out. He moved to a sober house in Los Angeles, California to clean up his act.
There Is Some Good In This World. And It’s Worth Fighting For.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Somehow, Williams put his life together again in 2012. He went on the Wendy Williams show to talk about how he had reconciled with his children and was doing his best to stay sober. He was living with his fiancée, and life was great. He continued working with Kraft Mac n Cheese, as well as making a few television appearances.
As of this year, Ted Williams was working as a radio host with WVKO in Columbus Ohio. The gospel music and local talk channel had become the perfect home for the “Golden Voice.” Although this has since changed, Williams has become an incredible story of human resilience. He’s now co-authored a book, and is also active in his organization, the Ted Williams Project which mission is to help the homeless. He is doing whatever he can to get others off the streets and help clean up their lives.
Where would Williams be today if that videographer never stopped? Would he have even been alive? With an overwhelming addiction problem, strained relationships with his family, he could have been another statistic for the drug community. However, while the road wasn’t easy, it was a welcomed option for someone who had nothing but time. He became one of the biggest internet sensations of all time. It seems his “15 minutes of fame” is exactly what has saved his life. Now, he lives a peaceful existence, giving back to others while trying to help the homeless. He is sober, healthy, and doing good. It’s funny how life works out when you just give yourself and others a chance.