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Posted at 4:29 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

The golden voice of Ted Williams

By Jonathan Capehart

We were all talking last week about the power of a second chance in life after Sports Illustrated reported that President Obama praised the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team for giving one to reformed dog-brawler Michael Vick. But the conversation is experiencing a wonderful resurgence with the rediscovery of Ted Williams.

Two days ago, the homeless man was using his "God given" talent -- a voice tailor-made for radio -- to panhandle along a highway in Columbus, Ohio. This morning this happened.

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Americans love a comeback. Sure, we love to build people up just so we can knock them down. But we also love watching how they scramble their way back up. Those with the guts, gumption and drive (not to mention talent) to claw their way back from heart break, humiliation or hard times are rewarded with admiration and opportunity.

Williams is one of those stories. He was a radio announcer back in the 1980s, but the lure of cocaine and then crack in 1993 stripped him of everything. For the last 10 years, the Brooklyn native has lived on the streets of Columbus. To watch his interview with Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira is to see a man who has been through a lot, but who is grateful for the second act that has been presented to him.

Towards the end of the interview, Williams had a message about the homeless that we all should heed.

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"Please, don't judge a book by its cover," Williams told Vieira. "Everybody has their own little story." The man or woman hoping you'll part with "nickles, dimes, quarters, pennies" -- as one local panhandler requests -- has a story that started long before they called the streets home. I don't give every time to every homeless person I encounter. But after saying, "Sorry, sir" or "Sorry, ma'am," I will always say to myself, "There but for the grace of God, go I." Not out of pity. Out of gratitude for the life I have.

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 6, 2011; 4:29 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

I wish for Ted Williams the best of life.

As great as his voice is, he's an even better baseball player.

Posted by: slatt321 | January 6, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Jonathan. Each of us with food, shelter, and reasonably good health is one reckless act, freakish occasion, or slippery slope--I can quit ____ on my own tomorrow...if I want to!--away from a much different life. Yet, few of us live with true daily gratitude for what we have, pining, instead, for what we don't have.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | January 6, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Capeheart, speak for yourself. Most Americans are not warped misanthropes, and so they do not in fact enjoy building people up for the pleasure of knocking them down.

But I wish Mr. Williams only the very best of luck! Whatever gig he eventually settles on, I hope it will allow the rest of us to enjoy his extraordinary voice from time to time. (Personally, I'm rooting for movie trailers.)

Posted by: Itzajob | January 6, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Williams' head has to be spinning -- from homeless to the Today show in less than a week. I pray that his faith keeps him grounded and sober through this whirlwind, especially as the high of his instant celebrity wears off.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | January 7, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Check out the fellow's criminal background:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/celebrity/meet-felon-golden-voice

Posted by: RoJaKa | January 7, 2011 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Ah, America. The only place that you never have to give up on your dreams. One day you’re a penniless Panhandler from Columbus, Ohio and before you know it, you’re sitting next to Matt Lauer on the set of the “Today” show and have people wearing t-shirts with your face printed on the front.

If only there were more good feel stories about panhandlers making it....

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/01/yes-its-true-ted-williams-is-more-popular-than-susan-boyle-ever-was/

Posted by: zoezoe123 | January 7, 2011 2:13 AM | Report abuse

I thought OWEbama, Bwarney Fwrank, Bernie Sanders, Pelosi & Reid said the USA was a lousy country.

Shows how much those losers know.

Posted by: BHO_ONE_TERM | January 7, 2011 3:23 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful story! and all the best to Ted Williams AND the reporter that discovered him.
May we all be inspired to look beyond the exteriors of those that are passed by everyday.

Posted by: angie12106 | January 7, 2011 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Thank God our government stepped in and gave this man a job and free health care! Because how else would it happen? Can you imagine if we had to rely on everyday people seeing an opportunity to help both themselves and him, then give the guy a job with benefits and a house? How weird if the guy knew God was guiding him, and can you imagine someone thinking that once he evoked his name "magical" things would happen?
What would we do without our government saving the day??

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | January 7, 2011 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Capeheart is openly gay. A few days ago, he was warmly endorsing the wrecking of the career amd life of a distinguished combat vet and officer of the highest ability - Owen Honors, because he said something anti-gay 4 years ago.

In Capehearts world, we appear to know who deserves 2nd chances - dog torturer/killers and homeless addicts....And who doesn't.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 7, 2011 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Ted is a sample of what a HIgher Power and a little self-determination can do. He might have have been under a bridge but he has was truthful to himself. How many are under a bridge (office, executive positions, senate or congressional seats) and still don't get it. ONLY BY THE POWER OF A HIGHER POWER.

Posted by: rgaraya | January 7, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I meant “he was truthful to himself” and “ONLY BY THE GRACE OF A HIGHER POWER”

Posted by: rgaraya | January 7, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Hey BHO at least Mr. Obama doesn't kill people in the name of the USA for nothing like your hero Bush and Cheney .. and now Palin want to do. All Obama wants to do is give you (yes, even you) health care. Take your adoration of senseless maiming and death somewhere else.

As for our new hero, we'll see if he makes good to the families he left behind.

Posted by: tslats | January 7, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

It is better that Ted Williams gets a second chance than that PUNK Michael Vick, who should have been released from prison and put directly on the streets to live the rest of his life -- not playing for millions of dollars and to be worshiped by depraved football fans. This country is so screwed up.

Posted by: B-rod | January 7, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Rojaka said hey look at his criminal history what was your point it has been all over the news. People like you make me sick!! So what he has a history we all have some type of history. The man said he was on drugs and drinking heavy so with the $--ck was your point? You just can't be happy for the man.

Posted by: MsSexy4Life | January 7, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Rojaka said hey look at his criminal history what was your point it has been all over the news. People like you make me sick!! So what he has a history we all have some type of history. The man said he was on drugs and drinking heavy so with the $--ck was your point? You just can't be happy for the man.

Posted by: MsSexy4Life | January 7, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Not sure why people on here have this buring desire to politicize everything.

Ted Williams' story is awesome and I can only wish him the best. He's been through alot but still has the grace and good sense to be thankful and not mean spirited like some of the people we see posting here.

Posted by: YadaYada1 | January 7, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

This is great for Mr. Williams, but unfortunately he's being played by corporations as American Dream propaganda. Meanwhile the unemployment rate is steady at 9.3%. The American Dream died a long time ago. Mr. Williams, in his own words, "won the mega ball".

Posted by: JoeBrones | January 7, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Thank you MsSexy4Life. I was about ready to post your exact words after RoJaKa's comment. Ted williams doesn't deny being on drugs/booze and being a criminal. All of this is old news. RoJaKa, what's your point? You don't think people deserve another chance to start over??? You're so wrong.

Posted by: missingwisc | January 7, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Capeheart is openly gay. A few days ago, he was warmly endorsing the wrecking of the career amd life of a distinguished combat vet and officer of the highest ability - Owen Honors, because he said something anti-gay 4 years ago.

In Capehearts world, we appear to know who deserves 2nd chances - dog torturer/killers and homeless addicts....And who doesn't.


Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 7, 2011 6:44 AM | Report abuse
***************************************

The career wrecker was not Jonathan Capehart. It was Owen Honors. Honors has been reassigned to an administrative position, so he didn't lose his job.

Would you condone this in a corporate setting? Say, GM CEO has GM employees make a similar video? Would you accept it in say, a high school or college setting, with your leader calling the shots? I don't think so. What if your son or daughter were asked to be in the video? Would you agree to it? Would you perhaps think they were coerced? I mean, if the XO asks, don't you say "Yes Sir!"???

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | January 7, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Some of these posts are so negative and politicized. This man's second chance to once again improve his life has nothing to do with Pres. Obama, so-called government-run health care, or Michael Vick. Many of these sanctimonious, self-righteous, judgmental individuals who posts negative, political and vitriolic comments will also tell you that they love God, country, and their guns, but have no compassion for their fellow man, especially if they don't look like them and think like them.

I commend those who are willing to give Mr. Williams an opportunity, not only to utilize his "God-given" talent, but also the opportunity to receive the help he will need to stay sober.

Posted by: bander2400 | January 7, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Wonder how Beck - Rielly - Rush - Bachmann - Palin and O'Donnell spin this to be a refecltion the negative, - Mr. Williams is black - just like Vick that's why folks want to help - or see - we don't need Unemployment Insurance - just take to the streets someone will give you a job!

Posted by: kparc1212 | January 7, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Re: MichelleKinPA | January 7, 2011 10:49 AM ...

How about the massively inappropriate and destructive behavior of HP CEO Mark Hurd.

He got re-assigned too ... to a senior position at Oracle.

Posted by: petehaynsworth | January 7, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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