8:53 AM / Friday June 2, 2023

15 Jan 2011

‘Golden voiced’ Ted Williams checks into rehab after alcoholic relapse

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January 15, 2011 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

associated press/CNN


ABOVE PHOTO: In this photo provided by NBC Universal, “Today” show co-hosts Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer talk with homeless man Ted Williams on NBC’s “Today” show, in New York, on, Jan. 6. Williams, who was living in a tent near a highway in Columbus, Ohio, just days ago, was in New York for an emotional reunion with his 90-year-old mother, media appearances, and to do some commercial voiceover work. On the “Today” show, he described his previous 48 hours as “outrageous.”

(AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)


Los Angeles– Ted Williams, the homeless “golden voice” internet sensation, voluntarily checked into substance abuse rehab for his alcohol and drug dependency after admitting on a television show that he was still drinking, a spokeswoman for “The Dr. Phil Show” said Wednesday.


Williams, 53, has been on a whirlwind spiral of publicity since a Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reporter videotaped him panhandling on a roadside. The video quickly went viral on the internet, and he was offered several announcing jobs, including a contract with Kraft Foods.


He said in several broadcast interviews in the past week he has been sober for the past two years after years of addiction, a problem that separated him from his family and left him homeless for years.


The decision to seek professional help came after “a lengthy one-on-one conversation with Dr. Phil,” show spokeswoman Stacey Luchs said in a written statement, referring to show host Phil McGraw.


Show officials did not disclose which facility Williams had entered for treatment.


Dr. Howard Samuels, the CEO of The Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles, said he was not surprised to learn Williams was still drinking, given that the experienced “such an extreme from having nothing to having money and fame in such a short period of time.”


“The hardest thing for an alcoholic is to have success,” Samuels said. “Because the alcoholic, on a very deep level, has a very difficult time with success.”


Williams, who traveled to Los Angeles with his family, has taped three interviews with “The Dr. Phil Show,” the program statement said.


“The decision was made due in part to Williams’ strange behavior over the past several days, which culminated in a physical altercation with one of his daughters at a Hollywood hotel,” the statement said. “He was briefly detained by police and later released.”


Williams’ third appearance with Dr. Phil, taped after his decision to enter rehab, will air Thursday, the statement said. His ex-wife, Patricia, and five family members will also appear on Thursday’s episode “to share their version of the incident and why they feel Williams is ill-equipped to handle his sudden fame,” it said.


“They reveal that he has been drinking daily, despite his adamant claims of sobriety,” the show’s statement said.


PHOTO: The homeless man with the golden voice, Ted Williams, is reunited with his mother, Julia Williams, 90, in New York Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. Williams, who was living in a tent near a highway in Columbus, Ohio, just days ago, became an online video sensation when the Columbus Dispatch posted a video of him speaking in his deep baritone voice on its website.

(AP Photo/Columbus Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III)


“If Ted is ever going to get better, he’s got to be honest with himself and admit he’s addicted to drugs and alcohol,” show host McGraw — Dr. Phil — said in the statement. “I’ve told him it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It might be a long journey for him, but this is a big step in the right direction.”


Williams, whose deep, velvety radio voice and touching story prompted an outpouring of sympathy and job offers from across the country, has become an overnight sensation.


A week ago, Williams, who was living in a tent near a highway in Columbus, Ohio, just days ago, was in New York for an emotional reunion with his 90-year-old mother, media appearances, and to do some commercial voiceover work. On NBC’s “Today” show, he described his previous 48 hours as “outrageous.”


“There’s no way in the world that I could have ever imagined that I would be — I mean, just have all of this just all of a sudden come into this portion of my life,” he said during a live interview in the program’s studio.


“I don’t know which one to choose, which one is the right one,” he said on “Today,” regarding the job prospects. But he said he was ready to handle the second chance he was being given and predicted that in five years, he’d be working as a radio program director and living in his own apartment. Williams said he found a “new sense of spirituality” in 2010 that would help him deal with whatever success comes.


Williams was contacted Wednesday by the Cavaliers, who have offered him a position that could include announcing work at Quicken Loans Arena, the team’s downtown facility. Williams said the team has offered him a two-year contract and said they would pay his living expenses.


It’s been a shocking turn of events for the golden-voiced man, who had gotten by living in shelters and occasionally with family and friends over the past few years. Williams has also been in his share of trouble. His past includes a lengthy list of arrests. He has served time in prison for theft and forgery and has been cited with numerous misdemeanors, including drug abuse.


He was most recently arrested on May 14. He pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge. In court records, his address is listed as “Streets of Columbus.”


Williams acknowledged his record during the “Today” show appearance and explained that he turned to crime so he could afford his drug habits.


Upon learning of Williams’ criminal history, the Cavaliers said their offer still stands.


“We believe in second chances and second opportunities,” said Tracy Marek, the team’s senior vice president of marketing. “The gentleman deserves an opportunity to explain certain situations. We’re not jumping to conclusions. It’s not fair.”


Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper said exact details of the team’s offer and their plans to help Williams with housing were still being worked out.


“They said that they’re going to give me LeBron’s old house,” Williams joked on NBC Thursday, referring to former Cavaliers star LeBron James, who left for the Miami Heat.


The Cavaliers did not know much about him, but were moved by Williams’ ordeal.


“When you know something’s right, you just have to launch,” Marek said. “One of the big things that we talk about here, with our organization, is how important urgency is — when you see something that feels good and seems right.”


During a timeout in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game against Toronto, the Cavaliers put a picture of Williams on their giant scoreboard and urged fans to send him messages at


Williams flew Wednesday night to New York, where he was expected to stay in a posh hotel off Central Park. He plans to see his mother, Julia, who lives in Brooklyn. She has stood by him during his battles with addiction.


“She has always been my best friend,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday, crying. “When I was a kid, she would take me down to Radio City Music Hall and on the subway. I’m just glad that she is still around. I prayed that she would live long enough that I could make her proud and see could her son do something other than stand along the side of the road with a sign asking for money.”


Julia Williams is thrilled her only child is turning his life around. She can’t wait to see him.


“This will be my day to see my son get up and do something to help himself,” she said. “He has so much talent. I hope this will be the thing for him. He came from a nice family. And then he went poor, poor. So, maybe this will build him up and let him see that there’s more in life than hanging around with the wrong people, and taking drugs.”


Williams said his life began spiraling downward in 1996 when he began drinking alcohol “pretty bad.” He used marijuana and cocaine and lost interest in his radio career. He eventually wound up on the streets, despite the best efforts of his children, seven daughters and two sons who all live in the Columbus area.


Williams said he celebrated two years of sobriety “around Thanksgiving. I just hope everyone will pray for me.”


When he first heard Williams’ soothing delivery, Kevin McLoughlin of NFL Films, which has chronicled pro football for nearly 50 years, knew he had to contact the unknown man.


“It’s that voice,” McLoughlin, director of post-production films for the NFL, told the AP. “When he was telling his story, I said, ‘That’s what we do. This guy can tell a story.’ Somehow, some way, I need to get a demo with him. He could be that diamond in the rough.”


McLoughlin has not been able to contact Williams, but he intends to track him down.


“The man deserves a second chance,” he said.

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