Posted: Jan 6, 2011 10:55 AM by Matt Stafford
Updated: Jan 7, 2011 10:04 AM
Three days ago Ted Williams was begging for money -- homeless on the streets of Ohio. That's until a local newspaper brought attention to his amazing voice.
"Say something with that great radio voice," a Columbus, Ohio newspaper employee - with the Columbus Dispatch -- asked Williams as he was panhandling just a few days ago.
"When you're listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you're listening to Magic 98.9," Williams let out, with a smooth voice and crooked smile, possibly showing that he knows how good his voice really is.
Then by Thursday, Williams had made appearances on several major broadcasting outlets, local and national -- including NBC's Today Show.
"This is Today!" Williams says with a big smile as he voices the introduction to Thursday morning's Today Show.
Williams' story of homeless for more than a decade to overnight success is a story that's touched many, including Justin Jay Hatfield in Colorado Springs.
"I heard his voice and my mouth dropped," says Hatfield. He thought his voice was great and his story even better. "I couldn't believe it, it was wonderful, I was just crying the whole time."
Hatfield has a better feeling than most of where Williams is coming from. After losing his job, Hatfield ended up homeless and has been struggling to get back on his feet since -- but he's getting there. He's staying at the Aztec Motel right now, where community organizers have been working to help transition the homeless off the streets.
He's also following his passion -- music. Through grants he's been able to get back into school; and seeing Williams' story has made him push even harder.
"It made me get up this morning at 7:30 and go to school and practice," says Hatfield. "I've been at school for five hours on the piano."
Thinking about if the same thing was to happen to him as happened to Williams; it strikes a chord with Hatfield.
"It would be a dream come true, most definitely," Hatfield struggles to muster up. The thought is almost too much for him to imagine.
He also realizes that music, in some ways, is like life -- you may not always hit the right key, but you can always recover to play a great song.
"No matter what kind of bumps life throws with you, you can always just bend with it," Hatfield says.
He's trying to get past those "bumps" in his own life. This semester he's enrolled in 18 hours at a local college -- all music classes and all paid for through grants. Even if he doesn't become an overnight sensation like Williams, he'll have his degree hopefully letting him write his own story of success.
Ted Williams, a man who has been homeless in Ohio, likely won't be homeless long after an appearance on NBC's Today Show Thursday and job offers from many, including the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams previously worked in radio as an announcer, but abuse of drugs and alcohol has left him homeless since 1993. Three days before his appearance on the Today Show he was panhandling, but after a photographer from the Columbus Dispatch posted a video with Williams showcasing his voice on the street it's gone viral on the website YouTube.
His story has been an inspiration to several in the country. News First 5 is looking at how his inspiring story is far from the only one of homeless people working to give themselves a better life. We'll have more on your evening news.
If you would like to hear Williams' voice for yourself, click here to see him on part of his Today Show appearance posted to YouTube.