Man with the 'Golden Voice' comes to Houston
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It's a rags to riches story that could have been scripted by Hollywood. A homeless man begging for money on a street corner is discovered to have an amazing talent. Thanks to an enterprising journalist and the unlimited reach of the internet, his fortune literally changed overnight.
So what's his life like a year later for the man known as "The Golden Voice?" We got a closer look.
This is how we first met Ted Williams -- homeless and addicted to crack on a street corner. But ragged clothes and matted hair couldn't hide his astonishing gift.
Fourteen months later, Williams has new teeth, a new suit and a new role of celebrity. The man dubbed The Golden Voice was in Houston speaking to the Women's Home luncheon, and instead of begging for change, now he's signing autographs.
"I pinch myself, slap myself, it's just so unbelievable," Williams told us.
So how did it happen? Let's go back to that street corner in Columbus, Ohio. Williams had been a DJ at a local radio station until he discovered crack cocaine.
"I really let crack take control of everything. I lost my family. I lost my dignity. I lost my jobs. I lost my children. I lost trust. I lost everything with crack," said Williams.
For more than 17 years, he says he slept "under bridges, in abandoned cars, in someone's hallways, a lot of vacant buildings."
Like so many other homeless men and women, he took up a sign.
"It said I have a God-given gift, a voice. I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless," Williams said.
His friends said no one would read it, it was too long. But someone did. A reporter at the local newspaper stopped to talk.
"A week or so later, he came back with a camera and said I'm going to make you earn this dollar. Say something with that voice," Williams explains.
The reporter put it up on Youtube. And the rest is history.
"I had no idea. I think I slept through technology over the past 20 years. I feel like Rip van Winkle, like I'm waking up out of a fog and here they've got Youtube, Facebook, Twitter,iPhones," he said.
Within days, job offers were pouring in.
"The Cleveland Cavaliers wanted me, Kraft macaroni and cheese, the Today Show, Jimmy Fallon, I'm like wow!" Williams said.
But he says the best moment was being reunited with his mother after more than 15 years.
"When I saw her for the first time, saying Mommy, Mommy. She whispered in my ear, please, honey, don't disappoint me," said Williams.
But he did, leaving rehab after only a week.
We asked Williams if he thought it was too much, too soon, and he replied, "Yes, I wasn't ready for treatment. Nobody had asked me, all they did was thrust me into the limelight."
It took a second try, and a good friend from his life before to help him get clean. Now nine months sober, he's found his family again, including his kids.
"I have nine kids -- seven girls and two boys -- sixteen grandkids and one great-grandkid," Williams told us.
He has years of neglect to make up for, but he says there are bright spots.
"My grandkids are happy that I'm wearing a suit now, that they can say, that's my Paw-paw, that kind of thing," said Williams. "And my mother, I finally went for the first time in 25 years, I went with my mother to a church service on Mother's Day, in a chauffeur-driven limousine, and to dinner, and just to see how proud she looked."
When we asked Williams how it made him feel to be able to do all that for her, he said, "Fantastic! A Hallelujah moment, a thank you Jesus moment."
Williams now does voiceover work and travels the country, telling others about his amazing story. He's also just published a book about his life entitled, appropriately enough, "A Golden Voice."
local, melanie lawson
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