This is Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr, Cleveland native, one-time Julliard prodigy and subject of my favorite movie of last year, The Soloist.
Ayers' immense musical talent earned him a scholarship to the most prestigious music school in the land. Tragically, schizophrenia prevented him from ever reaching the heights he seemed destined to reach. By the time he was discovered by journalist Steve Lopez, he had drifted to Los Angeles, where he was living under a bridge and out of a shopping cart. His battered violin, which he played for nickles and dimes, had two strings.
Today, at age 58, things have improved for Ayers, who takes it day by day and sometimes jams with the LA Philharmonic. With the help of a few friends, he has moved into private living quarters and has managed to salvage his life to a pretty impressive degree, all things considered.
Schizophrenia is a terrifying disease. Nathaniel Ayers is, if anything, a survivor. For this we admire him, and see fit to name him the Official Bassist of McBone. We think you'll find he has all the qualifications:
Northeast Ohio pedigree
Particular fondness for Beethoven
The first name 'Nathaniel'
Cleveland Indians hat, indicating loyalty to the Cleveland Indians baseball team
Check out this 60 Minutes feature, which highlights the friendship struck up between Ayers and Lopez.
Watch CBS News Videos Online
Or better still, see the excellent movie.