What's Up, South Texas: Man hopes to overcome homelessness with street performances

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Music can be a hobby for some people and a job for others, but for one homeless, wheelchair-bound man, music is more than just a way of living, it is the love of his life.

KSAT saw Stephen Presley sleeping with his guitar on his lap on the streets of downtown San Antonio.

“I call her Baby,” Presley said. “She belonged to Glenn Frey. He gave it to me a month before he died.”

The guitar means the world to Presley.

“She doesn’t have all of her strings right now but, hopefully, one day, I will be able to afford to get them for her,” Presley said.

Presley, who is 65 years old, said he has been playing music for 61 years.

“This is my way of living,” Presley said. “I have played with the Eagles.”

Presley said, though he has had a musical history, life has hit him hard, which is why he is currently homeless and plays for as many tips as he can get.

“Music is the greatest joy of my life,” he said. “If I didn’t have this, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Presley said he’s been playing around town for a while now, but it is a painful process.

“If I could get out of this wheelchair and walk, I would sell my soul to do so,” he said.

He said he finds happiness in his music during his hard times.

“Music makes you happy,” Presley said. “You start remembering things. You start going back to the times when you were happy, and you start learning how to maintain those feelings.”

Presley admits it is hard for him to be happy at times, but even during his down days, he tries to make others happy as much as he can.

“I am San Antonio’s premier sit-down comedian,” Presley said. “I am hoping one day I will be able to grow up and be a standup comedian, but that’s (not) until I can stand up.”

Other than making people laugh, he said, he hopes more than anything that his music makes an impact on people's lives.

“If you can get someone to stop and listen, then you have done a great thing because that means you have become important in their life,” Presley said. “There are so many talented musicians out here. Come on out here and get better by playing for others. Make yourself the treasure of San Antonio. Don’t let some old big building be the treasure. You be the treasure.”

Presley said he hopes to be discovered sooner or later so that he will be able to afford medical treatment that will get him out of a wheelchair and put a roof over his head.

The love and compassion Presley has for his music is what’s up in South Texas.

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