saying Go Bucks, Raptors, 49ers, Reds and Blue
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Read this in the Columbus Dispatch today
NEW YORK - Wearing the same camouflage jacket from his recent days of homelessness, Ted Williams supplied the opening voiceover for the Today show yesterday and joked with the hosts about the madness of his past two days.
"They told me they're gonna give me LeBron's old house," Williams told a laughing Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, referencing one of his many offers: a job and a home from the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams then rushed off to record four audio spots for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, the first of which will air Sunday on ESPN during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Later yesterday afternoon, the one-time radio announcer donned a new adidas jacket, jeans and sneakers to handle emcee duties during a taping of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, using the velvety voice the world discovered through a Dispatch video that went viral this week.
But Ted's excellent adventure couldn't compete with a thrill that the unlikely icon said easily eclipsed the myriad perks of surprise fame: a reunion with his mother, a Brooklyn resident, whom he hadn't seen in 20 years.
After tussles between competing morning shows delayed the much-anticipated meeting, The Dispatch helped bring the pair together at a penthouse conference room in a Midtown hotel.
"Hi, Mommy! Hi, Mommy!" said Williams, in tears, as he rushed toward her. "I told you I was coming this year.
"I don't look my best, but I'm home."
Julia Williams, who wore a fur coat and hat, was taken aback, quietly exclaiming: "My prodigal son has come home."
The no-nonsense matriarch had one complaint about her son's recent media appearances : Since the deluge began, Ted, 53, had been saying she is 92.
Julia Williams is 90.
Although she seemed pleased by his sudden acclaim, Mrs. Williams' greater focus was her son's supposed sobriety. Seeing her child out begging with a cardboard sign had hurt deeply, she said.
During conversations in years past, Ted Williams would hang up the phone whenever his mother would broach his plight, encouraging him to embrace religion.
"I was trying to tell you to find God in your life," she said softly. "How do you think I felt?"
"I'm through with it all," he assured. "Mother, I love you so much."
A Today producer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Williams and his mother had been booked for NBC interviews yesterday, but that CBS intercepted the mother.
"They held her up so we couldn't do the reunion," the producer said, adding that CBS wouldn't allow contact between mother and son until after their respective morning shows concluded.
A CBS spokeswoman, however, called that account "a complete fabrication."
"When NBC learned of our intentions to bring Julia to the airport (Wednesday night) to meet her son, they told us that they would not let them reunite even if it meant keeping Ted and Julia apart for days and that the reunion had to happen live on their show - and that's exactly what they did. They snuck him off the plane into a van and away from the airport in order to avoid his mother."
The two eventually met around noon yesterday in a conference room on the 39th floor of the Palace Hotel. The room was obtained by Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III, who shot the first video of Ted Williams.
Many Dispatch readers have expressed concern about how a man who hasn't had permanent shelter in more than a decade might handle the limelight.
He hesitated to deplane Wednesday night at LaGuardia Airport, where a paparazzi swarm loomed. He eventually was escorted off the tarmac secretly.
One thing that is worrisome is the point at which Williams' fame eventually wears off and he tries to develop a new, normal life, said Don Laufersweiler, co-owner of Affirmations, a psychotherapy center in the Brewery District.
"The stressors are going to be about money," he said, "but also just about how to exist in society in a more reasonable way than he was before," he said.
Williams has a history of substance abuse and a criminal past, having served three months in prison in 1990 for theft and nearly two months in 2004 for theft, forgery and obstructing official business. He also was cited for a dozen misdemeanors, including drug abuse, criminal trespassing and solicitation.
Paul H. Coleman, president and chief executive officer of Maryhaven, said he would give Williams the same advice he'd give any patient at the addiction-treatment center: Be active in a 12-step recovery program, and communicate with a sponsor who can remind you not to get too caught up in your emotions.
Williams briefly spoke with an NBC therapist about the sudden onslaught. When he asked for a "nerve pill," she instead suggested that he take deep breaths; meditate; and, most important, remember that not every job offer demands compliance.
Between his two Today interviews - first with Lauer and Vieira and later with Ann Curry and Al Roker - Williams took calls and fielded questions in a room stocked with snacks and endless cups of hot tea.
When asked, he told Access Hollywood that he'd like actor Terrence Howard to portray him. Emphasizing "no disrespect," he said people had compared his stately voice and slender face to President Barack Obama's.
Williams said he'd be happy to work as a program director for a radio station, draw a modest income and have an apartment with a kitchen.
Williams also offered potential perspective while waiting for the next of many close-ups:
"If it gets to that point where I can't do this anymore, let me move on," he said. "To hell with the rest."
Ted Williams finally is reunited with his mother, Julia Williams, 90, in New York. "My prodigal son has come home," Julia Williams declared.