What ever happened to Billy Ray Harris, the homeless Kansas City man who returned a lost (and valuable) engagement ring to its owner, only to achieve viral fame and thousands in online donations? In short, he’s doing great!
Despite rumors of his untimely death, 55-year-old Harris is alive and well, and was recently reunited with his family on TODAY Sunday. “I never would’ve thought this,” Harris said, surrounded by his family. “This was a total shock.”
Harris has been separated from his family for 16 years, but his sister recognized him when his Good Samaritan story went viral. Here’s a quick recap: Harris was holding out a cup in Kansas City, Missouri in March when passerby Sarah Darling accidentally dropped her engagement ring into it.
He didn’t realize until he packed up for the day, and decided to take the ring to a local jeweler, who offered him $4,000 for it on the spot. He thought about taking the money, but decided instead to wait and see if Darling would come back looking for her ring. She did.
“It means the world,” Robin Harris Williams, his sister. “I knew it was my brother as soon as I saw the picture, and automatically I just started yelling,” Williams said.
Though she lives in Texas, she tracked Harris down and let the rest of the family know. Brother Edwin and sisters Elsie Johnson and Nellie Vaughn joined the TODAY reunion.
Harris assumed he’d never see his family again.
“I’d been worried sick about my family since the last time I saw them,” he recalled. “I totally lost contact with them back in the 90′s…I was kind of down in the dumps, and on the verge of giving up.”
As for Darling, she an her husband Bill Krejci have become close to Harris, and set up a donation to help him out.
“I was hoping for $4,000, because that’s what he was offered,” Darling said. The campaign went way beyond that, with over 8,000 people donating a total of $183,000 thus far.
Now, Harris has a part-time job and a place to live. “I got an air mattress now, it’s like living like a king compared to where I was,” he said. But reuniting with his family has been the most important event to come out of his act of kindness.
“Got it all right here now,” Harris said with his arm around his sister.
Watch the video here: