Ted Williams’ life changed forever last year when a motorist videotaped him on the corner one day as he asked for money.
"I’m going to make you work for your dollar, say something with that great radio voice."
"When you are listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you're listening to 98.9."
Williams once had a promising radio career but it all fell apart thanks to drugs. Speaking to a large crowd of women at Houston’s Intercontinental Hotel, Williams told them how he would steal anything he could resell, while his girlfriend engaged in prostitution.
"I knew I could go out there an steal a bluetooth or a laptop, or anything a lot faster than standing out there for an hour, hoping a charitable person would drive by and give me a twenty dollar bill. But God said stand there."
And so he did — begging for money and saying God bless you to anyone who gave. And then the video hit the web.
"He shot the video and three weeks later, I’m getting a phone call on the highway. I’ve got my sign here and my phone rings and so I casually slip it out of my pocket — so none of the motorists see this phone — and I slip it up to the sign and I say, 'yeah what’s going on? Hey Ted, there’s a radio station looking for a homeless guy with the voice.'"
Marcia Tapp is a director at the Women’s Home of Houston, a residential center for women trying to get their lives back in order. She wanted Williams to speak at her groups’ fundraiser.
"We wanted an opportunity for the home to sort of illustrate that there is an opportunity for redemption, for anyone who wanted to make some changes. More importantly, Ted’s story was about people who didn’t give up on him."
[Sound from: NBC's Today Show]
After the video Williams’ face was all over the television. He told the crowd while living on the street he never stopped praying. And he knew his mother, who he hadn’t seen in years, was also somewhere praying for him.
"I had this God given gift, this voice, that I to this day can’t understand why it’s still with me, you know. I thought I had damaged it. You know crack cocaine is a very terrible drug."
Williams is now on a book tour and telling his story to as many people he can. He tells the audience: no matter what your situation, keep praying and don’t give up.
"I want to give back. I know God didn’t bless me for the reason to just hoard the money, maybe go smoke my brains out, or something. He gave it to me to give back in any way that I can and that’s what I’m looking forward to out of this journey."
The crowd appeared mesmerized by Williams’ story. But before he said goodbye, he gave them one more listen to the voice that made it all possible:
"When you’re listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you’re listening ... "