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“They said that they’re going to give me LeBron’s old house,” Williams joked on NBC on Thursday, referring to former Cavaliers star LeBron James, who left for the Miami Heat.

It’s been a shocking turn of events for the golden-voiced Williams, who had gotten by living in shelters and occasionally with family and friends over the past few years. Williams also has been in his share of trouble. His past includes a lengthy list of arrests. He has served time in prison for theft and forgery and has been cited with numerous misdemeanors, including drug abuse.

He was most recently arrested on May 14. He pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge. In court records, his address is listed as “Streets of Columbus.”

Williams acknowledged his record during the “Today” show appearance and explained that he turned to crime so he could afford his drug habit.

Upon learning of Williams’ criminal history, the Cavaliers said their offer still stands.

“We believe in second chances and second opportunities,” said Tracy Marek, the team’s senior vice president of marketing. “The gentleman deserves an opportunity to explain certain situations. We’re not jumping to conclusions. It’s not fair.”

Williams said his life began spiraling downward in 1996, when he began drinking alcohol “pretty bad.” He used marijuana and cocaine and lost interest in his radio career. He wound up on the streets despite the best efforts of his children, seven daughters and two sons, who live in the Columbus area.

Williams said he celebrated two years of sobriety around Thanksgiving.

“I just hope,” he said, “everyone will pray for me.”


Tom Withers in Cleveland and Samantha Gross and Warren Levinson in New York contributed to this report.