SmackDown: Is Ted Williams a Positive Role Model for Your Kids?

Filed under: In The News, Opinions

Ted Williams has had a helluva week. Credit:

Peter Kramer, NBC / AP

It's Redemption Time for Ted Williams - and He Deserves Our Support

by Dori Hartley

Ted Williams deserves a second chance.

And, thanks to Doral Chenoweth, a journalist working for the Columbus Dispatch, this desperate and deserving man is going to get one.

As you no doubt know by now, Williams is the homeless, and formerly drunk/addicted "Man with the Golden Voice" newscasters can't seem to get enough of. And, once you get a earful of this dude in action, you'll not only know why he's become such an overnight sensation ... you'll cheer for him, too.

Before his made-for-TV makeover, Williams was, at first glance, a skuzzy-looking puppy. Chenoweth caught his serendipitous "audition" on video after pulling his car over to where Williams was panhandling. The straggly hobo boasted on a sign that he was born with the gift of a golden voice, and that he'd seen hard times, which was why he was on a corner, begging.

Curious, Chenoweth asked Williams for a demonstration. Genuinely happy to oblige, the courteous and apparently mega-talented voice artist launched into a mock radio announcement. Blown away, Chenoweth recorded Williams, and promptly did what anyone else would do with video gold: He put it on YouTube. Once the mellifluous sounds of the street beggar's speaking voice hit the Web waves, everyone wanted to know more about him.

The details of his demise came out, and they weren't pretty. Drugs. Alcohol. Jail time. Homelessness. At the time Chenoweth discovered him, Williams was living on the street. But the drugs and the drink, he says, were things of the past. Two years sober now, Williams, for the first time in his life, found himself in the right place at the right time.

The video, of course, caught fire and so did the positive attitude towards this man who had made more than a few seriously bad turns in his life. And, then, the offers started rolling in. Voice over work, talk show hosting, sports announcing. Oh, yeah, Williams is a working man now!

Within what seemed like a few minutes, this 53-year-old went from nasty-looking bum to the "It" guy. Now sporting a spiffy suit and tie, shave, haircut, national fame and so much promise ahead, one of our fellow Americans is finally getting what we all wish for at some point or another: a second chance.

True, partaking in drugs and alcohol was clearly a bad decision for Williams. And, as a society, we tend to be extraordinarily unforgiving when it comes to drug abusers. If a person has done drugs, we always assume they can't possibly do anything else but be a pathetic waste of space.

But is this really true? How about leaving room for a little redemption? How about a little, "Let's hear it for the poor schmuck who's getting a second chance?"

Williams isn't a child molester; he's not a rapist. He's a guy who took the wrong road and, because of it, ended up screwing up his life. "Crap" happens, and it happened hard for T. Dubs.

But can't we just be happy that this guy finally got cut some slack?

Of course, outside of all this thrilling possibility, there's a seemingly endless cacophony of doubters, all waiting for the moment when Williams will publicly fail the test. For every bit of good news Williams encounters, there's someone practically salivating with the words, "There's a chance he might go back to drugs and alcohol!"

I sincerely hope that doesn't happen. But, if it does, will anyone really care about Williams, the man? Or, will his repeat fall from grace just become another viral sensation on YouTube?

We all make mistakes. Some of us, like Williams, make seriously bad ones, and rarely do we get such a "golden" opportunity to redeem ourselves, as he did. In the end, it's not our place to judge. Instead, let's take his story and file it under "hope" -- and remember, sometimes a second chance is all we need to lead us to a new beginning. And who doesn't deserve that?

Sorry, Ted Williams, but Your Good Luck Should Not Be Regaled as Success Story

by Jessica Samakow

Growing up, my parents taught me I could be anything I wanted to be, and that no dream was out of reach. And, when I was 4, I took their words of wisdom literally: I put on a princess dress, and BAM! I was a princess.

But, as my childhood fantasies faded away, I learned that aside from putting on a costume, the way to become "whatever I wanted to be" was through hard work.

My folks paved the road to success for me, reminding me constantly how important it is to have a good education. As long as I worked hard in school and stayed away from drugs and even farther away from prison, I could achieve my goals. I believed it then, and I still do now.

But, I can't help but wonder how heavily their advice would have weighed on me if the media had been shoving the opposite message in my face, as a recent breaking news story is doing today.

A week ago, Ted Williams was a homeless man with a criminal record. A cardboard sign caught one reporter's attention, and now, according to CBS, Williams has been hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, is receiving job offers left and right ... and still has a criminal record.

Tracey Marek, senior vice president of marketing for the Cavaliers, says she's glad to have him on board, despite his many mug shots.

"We loved his voice, we loved his story" she tells NBC's "Today."

When the facts are laid out, however, his story is anything but lovable.

Williams was once a radio announcer. Then he fell into drugs. And, when he became homeless and couldn't find another job on the radio, he chose theft as his means of obtaining money.

Williams has landed in jail twice for stealing and has been cited with a dozen additional misdemeanors, The Columbus Dispatch reports. His past is unfortunate, but his actions are teaching kids that laziness and luck bring success and that drugs and crime won't stand in the way.

In the same report on "Today," Williams expresses his gratitude that his mother is alive to witness his success. He says she would have been happy if he had taken a job at McDonald's, or anywhere else for that matter, while he was out of a radio job.

So, my question is, why didn't he? He was perfectly capable of working, but because he couldn't find a job in his desired field, he chose to beg and steal, instead?

There are thousands of talented voiceover artists struggling to make it in the industry who maintain unrelated jobs. They go to auditions, work to pay the bills and hope their hard work and perseverance will pay off so their "golden voices" will be discovered. They aren't sitting outside waiting for a cardboard sign to be their ticket to success.

Williams tells "Today" he remembers thinking, "maybe this will be the year that someone will say, hey, man, you wanna job? Or something ..."

Sorry. In the real world, it doesn't happen that way. You want a job? You go out and look for one and you don't rest until you find one. William's one-in-a-million lucky strike sends the message that YouTube stardom is an alternative to hard work.

And, so, while Williams' story is notable, it is not one that should be praised. There are plenty of other rags-to-riches stories that serve as much better examples and inspirations to kids. Oprah, anyone?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.