Ted Williams, an American radio host, voice-over artist, and internet sensation. But life wasn’t always this way. Four years ago, Williams was an African American homeless man on the streets of Ohio begging people for spare change.
But let’s backtrack to his early life. After being honorably discharged following three years serving the United States Army, he enrolled at a voice acting school after being inspired by a radio announcer during his early school days. Following this, Williams often worked long, overnight shifts at WVKO (AM) radio station in Columbus during the soul music segments.
However, the year 1986 marked his downfall. Drugs and alcohol abuse started to overtake his life, on top of a loss of interest in his radio career. After being evicted from his house in 1994, Williams was arrested over seven times for charges of theft, drug possession, escape and robbery, along with counts of trespassing, pedestrian solicitation and drug abuse. For over two years, he sat in jail and lost everything.
And then things turned around.
Four years ago, when Williams was walking around the streets with a sign informing everyone, “I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times”, luck gave him another chance.
Doral Chenoweth, a videographer for the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio saw Williams with this cardboard sign, and subsequently asked him to demonstrate his voice whilst videoing it (watch it below).
The video was posted onto YouTube, where it gained viral status with over 20 million views. The media buzzed with excitement around the man with the “golden voice”. Who was this person that sounded like the love child of Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough? Where could they hear more? Williams’ story garnered a significant amount of attention, with many of the public creating sites to urge others to pledge money, clothes and job offers to him. Help him, they begged, give him a second chance at life.
In 2011, he was invited onto the ‘Dave and Jimmy Show’ on WNCI and also ‘The Early Show’ on CBS, along with the Today Show.
“It happened so fast. One day I’m homeless with not two pennies to rub together, and then the next day I’m in Hollywood”, he said.
One thing lead to another and Williams was offered a home and job by the Cleveland Caveliers NBA basketball team, along with side jobs from MSNBC to provide voiceovers. Additionally, he became the voice behind Kraft Food’s 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl campaign, as well as a $300,000 book advance.
However, depression soon followed due to the pressure of being thrust straight into the spotlight, a number of bad business deals and failed attempts at drug rehabilitation, which subsequently lead to him losing his car and condo.
Nowadays, a new manager and a renewed view on life has given him the determination to chase success till the end. He’s no longer homeless for the second time, and instead lives with his girlfriend in a house with a fire place (a major plus he says!), working as a voice-over artist whilst also finding satisfaction through his work with the homeless.
Now sober for a few years, Williams travels the country as a public speaker to organisations and groups, sharing his story and experiences in order to raise awareness about homelessness. He also became the mastermind behind ‘The Ted Williams Project’, a non-profit organisation that aims to eradicate homelessness in his hometown.
“I’m still in recovery,” he told Fox News. “But it has been three years since this divine blessing. I am looking forward to taking God’s message and the message of redemption, hope and of second chances, addiction, mental heath and homelessness…I had a cloud covering that star you know. Now that cloud is slowly moving away”.
Although the homeless may appear worthless and lazy in many instances, many of them, like Williams, have many more skills than we could ever dream of. Let’s give them the opportunities to show us. A second chance is open to anyone, as long as you always try and never give up hope. Like Williams, many of the homeless have jobs or used to, and we should never simply stereotype them.
Written by JC