It sounds like something from a Hollywood movie script, with more than a hint of the Susan Boyle about it. Ted Williams, the homeless Ohio man who enraptured the people of Cleveland with his mellifluous radio announcements from the side of the motorway, has shot to fame after it was revealed the city's NBA team have offered him an announcing role.
Williams, a former radio personality who was left living on the streets after becoming addicted to drink and drugs, made the news in the US this week after a video of him performing radio links with an unusual panache appeared on YouTube.
Holding a cardboard sign that reads: "I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times", Williams is seen asking for money, and giving motorists snippets of his best voiceovers using his 'God-given gift of a voice', as Williams himself puts it.
And the video seems to have been the launchpad to greater success, with the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly offering Williams a two-year contract for a role that could include voiceover work. Williams says he has also received an offer from NFL Films, the studio operated by America's professional football league.
"This has been totally, totally amazing," Williams told the Associated Press. "I'm just so thankful. God has blessed me so deeply. I'm getting a second chance. Amazing."
"I can't believe what's going on," said Williams, a father of nine. "God gave me a million-dollar voice and I just hope I can do right by him."
Williams was initially spotted by The Columbus Dispatch standing near an exit ramp off Interstate 71. A local reporter – who, in the video, is heard telling Williams: "I'm going to make you work for your dollar" – filmed the short video, and posted it on the internet. Several news organisations in the US picked up the video and ran the story.
Williams' life began to falter in 1996 when he began drinking alcohol "pretty bad." He used marijuana and cocaine and lost interest in his radio career.
His last job was with a station in Columbus, the state capital, but he ended up on the streets, despite the best efforts of his children, seven daughters and two sons who all live in the Columbus area.
Williams' story should be an inspiration for other homeless people, said Bob Ater, executive director of the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless.
"One of the problems with a lot of homeless people is that they have some rich talent, but don't have the confidence to exploit that talent," Ater said, adding he was unfamiliar with Williams before the video hit. "He's fabulous. The Cavaliers could use a boost of some kind."
Kevin McLoughlin of NFL Films added: "Somehow, some way, I need to get a demo with him [Williams]."
Ted Williams, homeless former radio announcer, handed NBA role | World news | guardian.co.uk