Utah man discovers friend living homeless, helps him return home

SALT LAKE CITY – Three friends met again on the sidewalk in front of City Creek Mall, in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City. This is actually the place where they first met three years ago under remarkable circumstances and where Corey Hathaway camped and begged for money.

Hathaway explained, “In a way, I didn’t want to come back here. I hate to see what I was doing here, but in a way it’s closed.”

One of the friends standing with her on the sidewalk admitted that she did not think they would be back together under happy circumstances. “I wasn’t sure you were ever going to leave the streets,” Candice Madsen said.

In April 2017, Corey Hathaway was living with a drug addiction and was homeless for five years. After breaking his hand in a construction accident, he took to the streets and became addicted to pain medication, and then heroin.

Hathaway said, “At first you want it. Then it gets to the point you need it. In the end, I wasn’t myself. I didn’t like myself,” Hathaway said. “The only thing that got me out of it was Michael.”

Michael Hansen found Hathaway when he bent down to give a sleeping homeless man a dollar and realized that it was his best friend since childhood.

“When I saw him my jaw hit the floor very loudly because it was my best friend from elementary school through high school,” Henson recalled.

Hanged out with KSL-TV producer Madsen and saw friends sharing pizza in the middle of the sidewalk. “The longer I kept looking, the more introverted I became and finally I heard one of them saying, ‘Let’s take a picture.’

Madsen voluntarily asked to take pictures and when they told him that they had not seen each other in 14 years. “Then I said, ‘You are not going to believe it. I am a journalist and it is a wonderful story.’

Madsen produced a story about the reunion of KSL-TV and was followed by the cheers of friends from all over the world.

But getting Hathaway on the road was not an easy journey.

Hathaway said that his addiction and fear of failing and bringing his family down again, kept him on the streets. “I’ve always wanted a way to be homeless. I didn’t know how,” he said.

Hansen’s long journey to bring Hathaway to the streets finally ended in the spring of 2018, when Hathaway was hospitalized.

Hathaway credits friends and family for helping him regain his life.
Hathaway credits friends and family for helping him regain his life. (Photo: Michael Hansen)

Hathaway said, “Michael has come and blessed me and it has been going on ever since”.

Hansen remembered driving to the hospital thinking that his friend was about to die. But when he gave the blessing, he knew that his friend could survive.

“At that moment I knew that if he would do everything that the physicians asked him to do, he would actually survive,” Hansen said.

It was a miracle that Hathaway made a living. He spent nearly three months in and out of hospitals for heart, lung and kidney failure. Doctors did not think she would be able to undergo dialysis without transplant, but she did.

Hathaway said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for doctors and nurses.”

Hathaway credited many people for helping him regain his life – including the dentist who gave him his smile back. “I can eat real food – real food.”

Many friends also encouraged her but topped that list – her mother who never gave up hope.

Hathaway said, “What else can I say? She is my mother. Moms are always there for you.”

The rest of his family were also able to go past to welcome him very fondly.

Corey is making amends with his family.
Corey is making amends with his family. (Photo: Corey Hathway)

“There’s always forgiveness. You just found a way to get it,” Hathaway said.

Ever since he came home, Hathaway has apologized profusely and begun to heal many of his relationships – including his son. “I’m trying to make him up. Spend time with him as much as you can. Before he was Corey. Now there’s Dad.”

Hansen said that his friend comes back to the person he trusts with his life. “I have seen that he goes from living on the sidewalk to staying home here, and you can see how amazing and a converted person he is.”

Hathaway said that there are other reasons besides drunkenness that lead to homelessness. He said, “Every person has their own story. A big thing for me is that people will then stop and talk to me and accept that I was a human being.”

Hansen and Hathaway wanted to do something special to give back and say thanks to all those who helped in their journey. He teamed up with Madsen to produce an old-time radio show based on his story. You can listen to the show here.

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