Ted Williams would panhandle on the streets of Ohio, advertising the services of his golden radio voice on a cardboard sign he displayed to passing motorists. Williams lost his home in 1993 due to financial problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Then his world changed when a local reporter published his story. After more than a decade on the streets, Williams was a recent guest on The Today Show, with multiple job offers, including one from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams told Today co-host Matt Lauer that "the voice still maintains some type of resonance," despite the drugs and alcohol, despite "the flames that went down my throat," as he put it.
Lauer asked Williams whether he could handle going from homeless to famous in the span of three days, implying that the lurking addiction to drugs and alcohol would once again threaten to steal everything away from Williams.
Williams told Lauer not to judge a book by its cover.
Keeping you in your home
By Williams' own account, alcohol was always present in his life, but he could nonetheless support himself. Then he began to snort powder cocaine and smoke crack. Eventually Williams committed crimes of theft and fraud to support his addiction to alcohol and drugs. After losing his home, the cops would chase him from his favorite panhandling spots. They gave him the nickname "radio man," and motorists would stop just to hear his voice.
Now he vows to do things differently and to remain thankful. When Lauer asked what Williams would be doing five years from now, he replied that he hoped to have his own apartment, as well as be clean and sober.
But drugs and alcohol are by no means the only way to lose your home.
From divorce to the loss of a job, and from chronic illness (some argue that addiction counts) to serious injuries as the result of an accident, the vast majority of people face financial problems because of circumstances outside their control.
The fact that Williams' answer included having a place to live illustrates his struggle with homelessness and the broader issue of keeping people in their homes.
"Everyone has their own little story," Williams said.