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Ted Williams (born September 22, 1957) is an American voice-over artist. Williams gained widespread media attention when an interview made during a period when he was homeless went viral after being posted to YouTube in early January 2011. Williams subsequently received numerous job offers. He co-authored A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation with Bret Witter. He is the founder of the Ted Williams Project, a non-profit organization serving homeless shelters.
Ted Williams was born and raised in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York City. He served three years in the United States Army, was honorably discharged, and attended school for voice acting. His inspiration to become a radio announcer came from a field trip at age fourteen, when he found that a radio announcer whom he had heard looked nothing like he had imagined. Williams later worked overnight shifts for WVKO (AM) in Columbus when the station played soul music. According to Williams, his life started falling apart in 1986 with a combination of drug and alcohol abuse plus a loss of interest in his career. In 1994, he was evicted from his house. During this period Williams was arrested at least seven times on charges including theft, drug possession, escape, and robbery. He was also issued misdemeanor citations for drug abuse, criminal trespassing, and pedestrian solicitation. These resulted in two jail sentences, with Williams serving three months in 1990 for theft and nearly two months in 2004 for theft, forgery and obstructing official business. He is a father of nine children: seven girls and two boys.
|Wikinews has related news: Homeless Columbus, Ohio man with 'god-given gift of voice' becomes YouTube sensation|
Doral Chenoweth, a videographer for the Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio, recorded an interview with Williams, and posted the interview on the newspaper's website on January 3, 2011. Recorded during a period when Williams was homeless, Chenoweth located Williams standing next to traffic, holding a cardboard sign with a handwritten advertisement of his voice and a request for donations. In the recording, Chenoweth asked Williams to demonstrate his voice. The video showed a disheveled Williams gratefully receiving a donation and improvising a startlingly accomplished radio station promo. The video concluded with a short interview where Williams elaborated on his education and the problems that led to his homelessness. The video was reposted to YouTube where it received significant attention. At the same time, Williams' story garnered attention on social news websites with users pledging money, clothes, and job offers. On January 5, 2011, Williams appeared on the "Dave and Jimmy Show" on WNCI and was interviewed by The Early Show on CBS. He was interviewed on Today, January 6, doing the lead-in voice over, revealing that he was to have an interview to do voice overs for Kraft Foods. On January 10, a fundraiser website, TedWilliamsYourVoice, was set up to support Williams.
Subsequently, Williams received several job offers. On January 5, the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball team offered him a job and a home. The offer called for Williams to do full-time voiceover work with the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena. Williams responded, "That’s the best deal ever!" On January 7, 2011, Williams was officially hired by MSNBC to provide voiceovers for the network. Williams was also hired to be the voice behind Kraft Foods' new TV campaign, which launched on ESPN during the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on January 9.
Williams said he had remained sober since mid-2008, but started drinking again after the media attention. On January 12, 2011, after a lengthy one-on-one talk with TV psychologist "Dr. Phil" McGraw, Williams admitted to drinking alcohol heavily again and agreed to go to Origins Recovery Center, a male-only drug rehab facility in Texas arranged by Dr. Phil. He had also made the commitment to attend alcohol rehabilitation courses. Williams checked himself out of the rehab facility after 12 days.
Later, in February 2011, Williams, reflecting on why he had left the rehab facility, said to reporters that "I love Dr. Phil. I don't want to bash him in any way. I walked out of treatment because it was a little scripted, I felt. There was no anonymity. I want him to know that his cares and his concerns will not be in vain. I am going to try and truly get back into the swing of things."
Also in February 2011, the reality show Second Chances at Life was announced to be in pre-production with Williams as host. A second season is also being planned and, if produced, is slated to introduce new individuals who also deserve a second chance at life.
On March 9, 2011, Williams was interviewed again on Today, where he thanked his voice over mentors, Randy Thomas and Joe Cipriano and reported he was doing well and living in a sober house in Studio City, Los Angeles, California.
In April 2011, Williams returned to Columbus as part of shooting a commercial for a local store and a reality show.
On May 6, 2011, it was announced that Williams would be entering a Texas rehabilitation facility for emotional reasons and not for narcotic reasons. Furthermore, Williams' book and reality show are on break until Williams returns. The following day, The News-Herald reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers had retracted their earlier job offer to Williams.
In November 2011, New England Cable News announced that Williams had joined NECN as the official voice of the New England cable channel and would be working out of his at-home studio in Dublin, Ohio.
In February 2012, he became 'The Golden Voice of Love' to promote Kraft's Mac & Cheese in a YouTube campaign. He read selected tweeted declarations of love between 12 and 14 February.
On May 14, 2012, Williams made an appearance in an interview on the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. In the interview he said he had been clean and sober for over a year, was working, and is doing well. In his recent book, A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation, he reflects on his time prostituting himself and his girlfriend while abandoning his children for his cocaine addiction.
In a January 2013 segment for the Today Show, Williams revealed that he now lives in an apartment and is steadily employed as a commercial voice-over artist for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, but admitted to still suffering strained relationships with his children. He has also started the Ted Williams Project with Kraft, a non-profit foundation that provides necessities to homeless shelters.
On September 16, 2013, Ted visited Access Hollywood Live to talk about narrating his new film, Houseless. The film titled Houseless gives an inside look at the harsh realities of living homeless on the streets. Ted also discussed how he has decided to surround himself with the right people as well as the daily struggles of staying sober.