A Brooklyn-born panhandler whose “golden radio voice” made him an overnight Web sensation is ready for a triumphant return to the city and reunion with his 92-year-old mother.

Just two days ago, Ted Williams, 53, was a homeless recovering alcoholic, cadging coins from motorists in Columbus, Ohio, by treating them to sound bites of his buttery, baritone voice.

Then a local newspaper video of the one-time radio announcer’s striking talent went viral, bringing a whirlwind of media attention and a pile of voice-over opportunities, including one to work for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In between sifting through job offers on Wednesday, a tearful Williams told CBS‘ “The Early Show” the best gift of his newfound fame was the chance to visit his mom, whom he hadn’t seen in at least a decade.

“I apologize. I’m getting a little emotional. I haven’t seen my mom in a great deal of time,” said Williams, who was coming to the city to do an interview on the “Today” show on Thursday morning.

*Williams 92 year old mother Julia

“One of my biggest prayers that I sent out was that she would live long enough for me to see me rebound or whatever, and I guess God kept her around and kept my pipes around to maybe just have one more shot,” he said.

Williams’ sudden fame also surprised his mother, Julia Williams. His ex-wife, Patricia Kirtley, told the Daily News she called his mom – who still lives in the East Flatbush apartment where she raised her kids – to explain her son’s stunning reversal of fortune.

“She didn’t believe it until I called her. She is so overwhelmed,” said Kirtley, 58, who had five children with Williams. “I think she does not want him to mess it up. She said this is an opportunity and a second chance.”

Julia Williams told WCBS Channel 2 News drugs “destroyed my whole family.” When she sees her son, she has a simple message for him: “Please get God in your life and what’s right.”

Their reunion was delayed after Williams was turned away from a flight because he lacked proper identification, according to TMZ.

Kirtley met Williams when he was 18 – and even then he had dreams of becoming a radio personality.

“I was about to melt,” she said of first hearing his voice. “He does have a God-given gift. He was always the entertainer. He always played music. He was like the deejay.”

Kirtley said Williams had a promising radio career in the 1980s – first as an overnight deejay in Johnstown, Ohio, and later on a morning show in Columbus, where he nicknamed himself Teddy Bear.

Aside from his radio gigs, Williams would act as an emcee for entertainers who came through Columbus. Kirtley said her ex didn’t handle fame well and got caught up with women, booze and drugs.

“He started messing up,” she said. “He had a lot of groupies. I think it was a whole lot for him to try and handle that. A lot of things were going wrong in his life.”

Williams’ career and marriage collapsed. His addiction led to a string of arrests for forgery and theft, records show.

That all turned around when a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch found Williams begging for money with a sign saying he had a “God-given gift of a great voice.” In the video, he does pitch-perfect station identifications.

Williams told the “Early Show” he hoped someone might spot his talents, but he never expected the outpouring of job offers and media attention.

“It’s like almost winning the Mega Ball lottery or something. It’s just phenomenal.”

Williams in happier times with his former wife, Patricia Kirtley, and his daughters.


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Here’s Ted on The Today Show….Video courtesy of

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