Ted Williams: My Troubles Are "Behind Me"

Ted Williams on "The Early Show" on Feb. 9, 20011
CBS
NEW YORK - Golden-voiced Ted Williams went from being homeless to a household name in an instant, his story seeming like a classic tale of redemption. Then, he fell quickly back to earth as a checkered past caught up tc him and he relapsed into drinking.

But in an exclusive interview on "The Early Show" Wednesday, Williams insisted he's started yet another new chapter in his life and is focusing on helping those in need. He said his troubles, with drinking and family members, are "behind me."

PICTURES: Ted Williams Timeline

A YouTube clip last month of "the man with the golden voice" panhandling on the side of an interstate highway ramp in Ohio became an Internet sensation, logging more than 20 million hits.

Williams was soon lifted from the cold streets of Columbus and thrust into the bright lights of instant stardom, including his first exclusive TV appearance, on "The Early Show," in which he said, "I am more appreciative of life. I'm not taking it for granted."

That interview led to countless more appearances and a pile of job offers and big paychecks. But the one-time radio announcer had a troubled past -- an addiction to alcohol and drugs and repeated arrests for crimes including theft and forgery - and they came to light nearly as quickly as his rise to fame.

To see the compelte Williams interview from today, click on the video below:

Just a week after he burst into the spotlight, the glare of attention seemed too much for Williams: He relapsed. After appearing on "The Dr. Phil Show," Williams agreed to enter a Texas rehab center for 90 days. "If I blow this, I die," he told Dr. Phil.

Yet, after just two weeks of treatment, he dropped out, leaving many concerned that Williams' second chance in life would disappear as quickly as it came.

On 'The Early Show" Wednesday, Williams told co-anchors Chris Wragge and Erica Hill he feels he likely opted for rehab too soon. "That was probably a very rushed decision," Williams remarked. … "It was too much, too fast, and I was just not really focused on what I should be doing. I felt scripted. I was doing live phone-ins (to TV shows) from rehab" when he should have been in classes.

His mother, with whom he reunited on "The Early Show" last month, worried when he left rehab that he was heading back to homelessness, Williams told Hill and Wragge. "She thought, 'Lord, what did he do now?"' Williams revealed.

Now, though, Williams says he's living in a sober house in Los Angeles for members of the voiceover community, and dedicating himself to his new Second Chance Foundation. The drinking, and troubles with some family members with whom he was reunited "behind me."

He's actually been able to give money to some relatives, Williams said proudly. "The Lord has blessed me to be able to kick then a few bucks now, be the standup father and an example of helping the needy." Efforts to heal the wounds of many years apart form his daughters are going well, Williams added, saying, "All of our hearts are all for one."

When he first entered the limelight, Williams reflected, he found it difficult "trying t keep up and field all these possibilities of all of these job offers. Everthing was just coming so fast. ..It was just a challenge of just trying to keep a level head and possibly come to one decision. But there were so many (offers to choose from)."

The quick reunions with family members also might not have been the wisest way to go, Williams says.

To see Ted and Julia Williams interviewed on "The Early Show" by co-anchors Chris Wragge and Erica Hill last month, click below:

To watch the Williams' emotional mother-and-son reunion, click on the player below:

Doral Chenoweth, the Columbus Dispatch reporter who discovered Ted Williams on the side of the road in Ohio, also spoke with Wragge and Hill:

More "Early Show" videos, of interviews of Julia, and Ted:

Video: Ted Williams' Mom on His Sudden Fame
Video: Ted Williams' New "Golden" Life