Dr. Phil

From Hell to Hollywood—Ted Williams one year later

It was exactly a year ago that Ted Williams went from homeless to hot news item over night. He was launched into reality star orbit when a Columbus Dispatch photographer videoed Williams on a local street corner. He was holding a sign that advertised himself as the man with the golden voice when the photographer asked if that were true.

Williams did an impromptu audition and his silky, rich bass voice attracted the attention of millions. Over 18 million watched the YouTube video. The world was astounded that an ordinary street bum would have such a gifted voice.

Voice as welcome as hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day

With a voice as smooth and comforting as hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, Ted Williams won the hearts of millions. Job offers from around the world poured in faster than a gushing oil well. He had finally found the ticket he needed to leave the streets behind. Within days he was appearing on TV shows across the country and staying in posh hotels. Williams instantly went from pan-handling on the streets to pandering publicists eager to cash in on the latest phenomena. Everyone wanted a piece of him.

But the spotlight of fame illuminated a darker side of Williams. He had not always been an upstanding citizen. In fact, he had a long rap sheet as a result of his long time drug and alcohol addiction. At the height of his career he was a popular DJ but he succumbed to the temptations of drugs, booze, and women resulting in a downward spiral which led to his living on the streets.

When all of this came to light the fame and job offers suddenly disappeared. The unexpected fame proved too much for the addict and by the second week he and his girlfriend were in rehab, compliments of Dr. Phil. Williams appeared on the Dr. Phil Show where he was reunited with members of his family and forced to come face to face with his demons. Dr. Phil received a lot of criticism for his handling of Williams which some felt was too harsh and others felt he was exploiting for ratings. Williams left the rehab center after a short stay saying he felt there was too much pressure and that everything was too scripted. He also convinced his girlfriend, who had been living on the streets with him, to leave rehab.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease

He bounced around a bit but several months later returned to the Abbeycare Foundation rehab facility in Texas where he eventually completed the 90 day program. In addition, his longtime girlfriend, Kathleen Chambers, also returned to rehab and completed a 90 day treatment. One of the first stops Williams made after leaving rehab was to see Dr. Phil to apologize for his comments and to thank him for getting him help. It is reported that Dr. Phil paid for his treatment at Origins in Texas. Dr. Phil explained that drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease and he knew he needed help to be able to handle his new-found fame. It came out that Williams lied about his number of days of sobriety and had actually been drinking during the publicity whirlwind.

Williams openly admitted he had lied to Dr. Phil and that he was not ready at the time to give up smoking crack. He said that through the treatment and recovery period he learned about his disease. He thanked Dr. Phil for being the only one to say, “Slow down.”

When I hear that mellow voice I want to rush right out and buy Kraft Mac and Cheese

Today, the man with the golden voice has returned to Columbus clean and sober and ready to start a new life. He and his girlfriend share a condo in Dublin, Ohio provided by Bret Adams, his new attorney and manager. It is far different from the tent he was living in just one year ago. The condo is sleek and modern and his spacious closet doubles as his recording booth.

Currently, that welcoming tone can be heard as the voice for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. A series of Kraft commercials are now running and every time I hear that distinctive mellow voice I want to rush right out and buy Kraft Mac and Cheese. He is also the voice for New England Cable News (NECN), a Comcast network. As a welcoming gift the people at NECN gave Williams an autographed jersey by his namesake, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. The gift left the honey-toned announcer speechless.

Another project of his is his autobiography A Golden Voice: Ted Williams: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought me from the Streets to Salvation coming out in May.

Meditate not medicate

It has been a roller-coaster year for Williams. However, it appears to this observer that he has had several earthly (and perhaps some not so earthly) angels guiding his way. The most prominent of these is Dr. Phil. In addition, several of the reporters and staff at Entertainment Tonight also became personally involved. They made sure he went to rehab and he is now doing some announcing for ET.

Today, the new Ted Williams is much more relaxed and self-assured. His speech is peppered with references to God. He says God has blessed him and that God is good. He is also following the creed of meditate, not medicate.

Last year I asked all my readers to take time to say a prayer for Williams because it was apparent that an awful lot was being thrown at a dazed and fragile person all at once. It looks as if those prayers have worked but he still has a lot of work ahead of him. The hard work of laying a solid foundation for his new self and career has been done and the future looks bright.

I hope Ted Williams keeps us updated of his activities and anytime he would like to be a guest blogger here at Notes from the Pond I will gladly share this platform. Just leave a note on my message board and I will contact you.

Never give up and believe in ourselves, our talents, and the God above

Once again I ask my readers to pray to the creator to surround Williams with his healing powers and guide him down the right path. He has accomplished a lot this past year and has a lot to be proud of but the task is not done. He has plans for the future which is something he couldn’t say a year ago. Ted Williams is an example to all of us to never give up and believe in ourselves, our talents, and the God above. Tremendous obstacles can be overcome but sometimes it takes a village to help make it happen.

He, like us, has a lot of living to do—one day at a time. God bless!



New York Times

Image via Wikipedia

My piece last week about Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice, must have hit a nerve because I have received some interesting comments. Many people think he is being exploited.

In two weeks Ted Williams has gone from homeless to famous to rehab. His story has touched a nation and is a story of hope for so many struggling in this economy. Everyone pulls for the underdog and wants to see the average Joe down on his luck overcome all odds to eventually find fame and fortune.

Ted Williams’s story certainly fits that formula. He was living on the streets with only a makeshift tent, a few blankets, and cardboard preventing him from freezing to death. However, once he was plucked from obscurity we find he has a dark and troubling past. One filled with alcohol, drugs, and many arrests. His family and others he has hurt and taken advantage of in the past are now wondering if he deserves all this attention. He even admitted to Dr. Phil, after viewing a montage video of all the frenzy surrounding him, he doesn’t feel worthy of what has happened. In tears he said to Dr. Phil, “It’s like, why me? Lord, I didn’t do anything super deserving of it.”

Several have said to me they are uncomfortable that Dr. Phil has entered the picture and he is exploiting the situation. Before we analyze the problem let us look at the definition of exploit. It is a verb meaning:

  1. to take advantage of somebody or
  2.  to use something for benefit.

The first definition is further explained as to take selfish or unfair advantage of a person or situation, usually for personal gain. The second definition adds, “To use or develop something in order to gain a benefit.”

No doubt Dr. Phil will gain ratings and advertisers and thus continue his show if he has programs that draw an audience. To do that he must be current and have guests, themes, and topics the viewing public is interested in—something that is in the news or news worthy.

 In a similar vein, this goes back to my college days and Journalism 101 discussions of what is news. News is information about recent developments or current events. News is what sells newspapers and today drives the 24 hour news networks. The Ted Williams story began as a simple human interest story that went viral and became news. It is what everyone is talking about.

So, yes, Dr. Phil will receive personal gain and benefit from presenting programs about current topics. In addition, the other offers Ted Williams has received will and have gained recognition for helping a homeless man. Good PR never hurt anyone. But, were these offers selfishly motivated? We should also ask the question, “Will Ted Williams benefit from appearing on Dr. Phil’s show and signing contracts with Kraft Mac and Cheese, the Cleveland Cavaliers, etc.?”  Most definitely, “Yes!”

The fact Ted Williams is now in rehab and not sitting on the street corner should be proof enough. After reading transcripts of some of the shows, I see that Dr. Phil warns Ted he knows of his dark past and wants it to come out now so he can help him and give him an opportunity to explain and defend it. Dr. Phil warns Ted it will all come out eventually and he is giving him an opportunity to say, “…that was wrong and I will do it differently this time.”

During his radio DJ days Williams became involved with booze, women, and drugs and didn’t manage his fame well. Dr. Phil points out that Ted has to make this second chance stick because there won’t be a third chance. Ted responds that if he lets his family down one more time then he won’t expect them to ever give him another chance. “I blow this and I die.”

Ironically, I ended my last blog about Ted Williams with those very words, “I hope he doesn’t blow it.” He has a long road ahead of him and rehab won’t be easy. He will have a lot of temptations in his new life and he apparently didn’t handle temptations well in the past. Admittedly, Ted Williams has not been a virtuous and model citizen but everyone deserves a second chance. He now sees what will happen if he does not follow through with his rehab and conquer his demons.

Whether or not he is being exploited can be debated. He will certainly have those hanging onto him who are there for their piece of fame and will exploit him whenever possible. Once again, I will close by saying, “I sure hope he doesn’t blow it.” By his own admission, the stakes are even higher this time around.