JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- He's a local man on an incredible journey. Tim White was once homeless and just trying to get by. But Thursday, he was the star of a local Fourth of July celebration.
In front of hundreds, he got to sing the National Anthem.
The song is full of words of pride, liberty and freedom. It's an anthem that White never dreamed he'd be asked to sing for his city.
"I was a drug addict and an alcoholic. I made a lot of bad decisions when I was young," he told Action News.
White is an ex-convict. He struggled for years with substance abuse. He even found himself living on Jacksonville streets.
"There's times I've sleep in the woods, I've slept under a bridge, I've slept in homeless shelters. I've stood in a soup line for a bag of peanuts and a banana," he said.
After three stints in rehab, he says he found God.
And now, 20 years later, he said he has come to learn what Independence Day really means.
"I know what it feels like to be powerless and not have that freedom," he said. "I'll tell you, 20 years later to have this opportunity to be here on Independence Day, it's surreal."
On Thursday, on stage in front of hundreds, he reached another milestone: an honor that means more to him than anyone in the crowd probably realized.
He hopes his story can be an inspiration to others, proof that life can get better. In a world of struggle, freedom really can change your life.
White now owns his own business and in his first published book has guidance to help others turn their lives around.