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Ted Williams: From Bum in Columbus, Ohio to "Fill in the Blank..."
Is there anyone on earth who hasn't heard of Ted Williams? My guess is no - the golden-throated homeless man from Columbus, Ohio has made news all around the world. When the Russians report on your story, you know you've made it big, brother. And now, well, with Doctor Phil as his own personal counselor and with Dr. Drew Pinsky adding his own two-cents' worth , what next? Oprah? A sit-down luncheon with Hillary Clinton? I am betting on Oprah, but time will tell.
Ted Williams was born in Brooklyn, New York and is now 53 years old. And like peeling back an onion layer by layer, the "layers" of his personal story just don't seem to ever end. He has admitted to struggling with alcohol and drug abuse, he's admitted to being more than a few "babies' daddy," and now this man has been thrust into the national, even international spotlight. And recently we find out he checked himself out of rehab "early." And then there is the voice-over contracts, the offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the celebrity, the cross-country trips, the L.A. crowd, the... the... Well everyone has cashed in on Ted's story - including myself in a small way. And I wonder when Ted's "15 minutes of fame" is over, what the media will have left him in the way of a carcass. Will the pieces of his life finally fall together? Cynical? yes, but we all have seen how celebrity can chew-up and spit out even the most celebrated among us.
I wrote this because I have seen Mr. Williams albeit from a distance several times. I have worked in Columbus, Ohio for years now and I am quite familiar with the intersection of Hudson Street and I-71 where he panhandled and where he was ultimately "discovered." And I fear that is exactly where he may finish his career after his ride on the merry-go-round of fame is over. And I have seen his talents - we have all seen his talents, but we can't forget that behind that amazing voice stands a sick and broken man - and ultimately a very fragile man teetering on the edge of an abyss.
**** NEWS UPDATE***** - Ted Williams was spotted and photographed on 1/28/2011 BACK IN CENTRAL OHIO.