Ted Williams copes with sudden fame, considers job offer
Ted Williams, the homeless man whose voice has brought him a flood of instant fame, said Friday morning that there was a moment when taking a chill pill seemed like a good idea -- until a psychologist talked him out of it.
"I wanted a nerve pill yesterday, to be honest with you," Williams, 53, said on "The Early Show." The recovering addict said the counselor told him, "'Listen, you're going to have to learn to meditate and not medicate.'"
So there's one answer to the legions of people inspired by Williams' story, but also concerned for how he'll fare the crush of pop-up celebrity. He said he told the psychologist he isn't bipolar and hasn't taken psychotropic medications.
Despite his "golden voice" and previous career as a radio DJ, Williams' life spiraled downward in 1996 and he ended up on the streets and behind bars thanks to drug and alcohol abuse, and theft and forgery committed to fund his habits. He says he's been sober for more than two years.
When his mother expressed concern over his continued sobriety in the face of sudden fame, he said, "I guess that's rightfully said, because two years is not a great length of sobriety enough to say that I've got this mastered. It's one day at a time."
Julia Williams, 90, was reunited with her son Thursday after more than a decade apart. He has seven sons and two daughters of his own, and has lived occasionally with family and friends over the last 14 years.
"I'm home," Ted Williams told his mom when they embraced in a conference room at a Manhattan hotel. "I told you I was coming this year. I don't look the best, but I'm home." He said this week that his life spiraled downward in 1996. His most recent arrest was in May, for misdemeanor theft.
Williams, who returned to "Today" and "The Early Show" Friday, was busy Thursday doing a commercial for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (to air Sunday on ESPN), voiceover promos for MSNBC and an appearance on "The Jimmy Fallon Show." Contrast that to panhandling on the streets of Columbus, Ohio, mere days ago.
He said he's seriously considering an offer to work for the Cleveland Cavaliers, joking Thursday on the "Today" show that they could put him in LeBron James' old house. (Ohio, incidentally, may or may not be over James ditching the Cavs for the Miami Heat.)
Williams said more seriously in another interview that a $30,000-a-year job and an apartment would be pretty nice too.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Top photo: Ted Williams and his mother, Julia Williams, talk with Meredith Viera on the "Today" show Friday. Credit: Peter Kramer / NBC / Associated Press
Bottom photo: Ted Williams takes a smoke break after his Thursday "Today" show appearance. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press