Ted Williams: Homeless to Famous

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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

This is the quintessential story that proves the enormous muscle of today's Social Media. O.K. Maybe Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg being named Time Magazine's Person of the Year, for influencing the lives of more than half a billion people, is the ultimate Social Media accolade. But the story of Ted Williams proves the proverbial Everyman's talents can be found by the wide-sweeping magic of the Internet. Not THAT Ted Williams. This Ted Williams, as of just a couple of days ago was begging for quarters on a Columbus, Ohio freeway ramp. Ted's handmade cardboard sign read "I have a God-given gift of voice. I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please. Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank You. And God Bless You. Happy Holidays."

Well, a passerby decided to record a short video of Williams, mainly to judge if his self-proclaimed "God-given gift of voice" had any merit. Once the video hit YouTube, the viral boom exploded. Some five and a half million hits so far have yanked Williams off the wintry highway ramp into a swank agent's office and the work offers are flooding in. NFL Films, famous for their deep-baritone narrators, want Williams for voice-overs. The Cleveland Cavaliers have offered a job. And many others are clamoring to seat the golden-voiced Williams behind their microphones.

When jobs are hard to come by, when we're encouraged to get creative and use the platforms of blogs, Twitter, YouTube to showcase our talents and originate a stream of income off the corporate path, this Ted Williams story shines as a beacon of hope.

While on the subject of feel-good stories, let's turn to a fan of this weekend's playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have been berated all week for arriving at a home-field playoff position with a losing record, but one of their ardent fans doesn't care how they got there. If you scour the Seattle sideline on Saturday, you might notice one guy's a bit shorter, a bit younger than the rest. That would be one 13-year-old Jake Olson. You'll also notice that Jake will be wearing dark sunglasses. That's because he's blind. Jake lost his left eye to cancer as a one-year-old. He then spent his childhood in chemotherapy and radiation treatments to keep the same cancer in his right eye at bay. Last year, cancer won that battle and, with just a month to go before the surgery that would render him blind, he expressed a desire to follow his favorite team, the USC football Trojans, while he could still see. The team embraced him as an insider, bringing him into the huddle at practices, some of them showing up at the hospital on the day of the surgery. USC Coach Pete Carroll was the one originally contacted by Jake's family, the one who initiated his relationship with the USC players. And now that Coach Carroll has moved from USC to coaching the Seahawks, Jake has flown up to lead prayers in their locker room.

So here we find these uplifting tales of Ted Williams and Jake Olson, just when we thought Brett Favre sex scandals were the best sports news of the week.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.



Diana Nyad