Former Rehab Roommate Says Williams' Story Will Inspire Others


UPDATED: Tuesday January 11, 2011 3:21 PM

An Internet video transformed a Columbus man from homeless to a national sensation, but Ted Williams admits his journey included some bumps in the road.

Williams has spent time in prison and battled drug and alcohol addiction, 10TV's Jeff Hogan reported on Friday.

A clip that was filmed by Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III first appeared on the Dispatch Web site on Monday.  It showed Williams standing near the ramp from Hudson Street and Interstate 71, demonstrating his voice.  A sign he held read, "I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times."

Since then, Williams has flown to New York to reunite with his estranged mother and received job offers from around the world, including NFL films, MTV and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Terry Graves first met Williams 20 years ago and said he knew him in some of his darkest days.

Graves, now a deacon-in-training at Peace Missionary Baptist Church, was Williams' roommate at the Salvation Army rehabilitation center.

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"He had a lovely voice," Graves said. "He was fun to be around, he was always outgoing like he is now, nothing ever changed about the way he is."

Graves' duties at the church include driving a van to pick up homeless people and bringing them to Sunday services. He had been looking for Williams for years, Hogan reported.

"I found out that he had been living in a tent, that really broke my heart because I could have gotten him into somewhere," Graves said. "If I could have just found him in time to help him out."

Graves said he is happy for Williams' newfound fame and hopes his story brings hope to others.

"He always wanted to be an announcer and talk and use that voice, so now God gave it to him to do," Graves said. "It brought tears to my eyes to see from where he came from and how he struggled, to where he got the chance to do what he really wanted to do.  Ted's story is going to inspire a lot of homeless people that do have dreams." 
 
Williams admits he has a tarnished past but said he is grateful for a second chance.  He said decades of alcohol and drug abuse led him from a successful career to living in a tent and panhandling.

His run-ins with the law sent him to prison on several theft and forgery charges.  Williams was also arrested multiple times on misdemeanor public solicitation charges.

10TV has asked Williams to provide narration for promotional spots during the station's "One Day to End Homelessness" telethon on Jan. 31, according to Frank Willson, the station's director of operations.

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Previous Stories:

January 6, 2011: 'Golden Voice' Williams Reunites With Mother
January 5, 2011: Offers From MTV, Cleveland Cavaliers Coming To Man With 'Golden Voice'
January 4, 2011:   Video Of 'Golden Voiced' Panhandler Goes Viral