Utah Man Discovers Friend Living Homeless, Helps Him Return Home

Dec 23, 2020, 10:15 PM | Updated: Dec 24, 2020, 12:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In the middle of downtown Salt Lake City, three friends reunited on the sidewalk in front of City Creek Mall. It’s actually the spot where they first met under remarkable circumstances three years ago and where Korey Hathaway used to camp out and beg for money.

“In a way, I didn’t want to come back here. I hate to see what I was like down here but in a way, it’s kind of closure,” explained Hathaway.

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

In April 2017, Korey Hathaway was living with drug addiction and had been homeless for five years. He landed on the streets after he broke his hand in a construction accident and became addicted to pain medication, and then heroin.

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

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

“When I looked up at him my jaw hit the floor pretty much because it was my best friend from elementary school all through high school,” Hansen remembered.

Madsen, a KSL-TV producer, happened to be walking by and noticed the friends sharing a pizza in the middle of the sidewalk. “The longer I watched the more intrigued I was and finally I heard one of them say, ‘Let’s get a picture.’”

Korey, Michael and Candice reunited on the sidewalk at City Creek Mall where they first met in 2017. (Ken Fall) Hathaway credits friends and family for helping him get back his life. (Michael Hansen.) Korey is making amends with his family. (Korey Hathaway.)

Madsen volunteered to take the picture and that’s when they told her they hadn’t seen each other in 14 years. “Then I said, ‘You are not going to believe this. I’m a journalist and this is an amazing story.’”

Madsen produced a story about the reunion for KSL-TV and after it aired people all over the world cheered on the friend.

But getting Hathaway off the street was not an easy journey.

Hathaway said his addiction, fear of failing and letting his family down again kept him on the streets. “I always wanted a way out from being homeless. I just didn’t know how,” he said.

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

“Michael came and gave me a blessing and it’s been going uphill ever since,” said Hathaway.

Hansen remembered driving to the hospital and thinking that his friend was going to die. But when he offered the blessing, he knew his friend could live.

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

It was a miracle that Hathaway did live. He spent nearly three months in and out of hospitals for heart, lung and kidney failure. Doctors didn’t think he would be able to get off dialysis without a transplant, but he did.

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

Hathaway credited many people for helping him get his life back — including the dentist that gave him back his smile. “I can actually eat food — real food.”

Many friends also encouraged him but at the top of that list — his mother who never gave up hope.

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

The rest of his family was also able to let go of the past to welcome him with lots of love.

“There’s always forgiveness. You just got to find a way to receive it,” Hathaway said.

Since he’s been home, Hathaway has asked for a lot of forgiveness and has begun to heal many of his relationships — including the one with his son. “I’ve been trying to make it up to him. Spend as much time with him as I can. Before it was Korey. Now I’m Dad.”

Hansen said his friend is back to the person he would trust with his life. “I’ve seen him go from living right here on the sidewalk to living at home, and you can see how amazing and a changed person he is,” he said.

Hathaway said there are other reasons besides addiction that lead to homelessness. “Every person has their own story. The thing that made a big difference to me is when people would stop and talk to me and acknowledge that I was human,” he said.

Hansen and Hathaway wanted to do something special to give back and say thanks to all the people that helped them along their journey. They teamed up with Madsen to produce an old-time radio show based on their story. You can listen to the show here.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The 6-month-old troublemaker leading first responders on a chase on I-80. (Salt Lake County Animal ...
Michael Houck

Stray dog runs loose at entrance of Parleys Canyon freeway

A stray puppy gave first responders a slow-speed chase on the highway entrance of Parleys Canyon Sunday.
1 day ago
Lava flowing from Mauna Loa Volcano during the night. (KSL-TV's Carissa Hutchinson)...
Shelby Lofton

‘It’s kind of an eerie feeling;’ Utah man living in Hawaii witnesses Mauna Loa eruption

A Utah man has a front-row seat to the Mauna Loa Volcano eruption happening on the Big Island of Hawaii.
1 day ago
Campus View Suites II where 18-year-old Peyton Hall fell to his death Sunday morning. (KSL-TV)...
Michael Houck & Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL-TV

Utah Tech student dead after accidentally falling from balcony

A freshman Utah Tech University student is dead after accidentally falling from a fifth-floor balcony early Sunday morning, according to the university and Utah Tech Police Department.
1 day ago
Three men are facing federal charges for allegedly robbing a postal carrier at gunpoint and taking ...
Brooke Williams

Man arrested after lengthy search, one still wanted

A 22-year-old man was arrested early Sunday after fleeing from a traffic stop.
1 day ago
A West Valley police car. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)...
Brooke Williams

Two dead after crashing into parked truck

Two died in a crash in West Valley.
1 day ago
Keith Jensen's Christmas home lit up by all the festive lights. (KSL-TV)...
Michael Locklear

Millcreek man lights up neighborhood with the face of Santa

Millcreek man is spreading Christmas cheer through tens of thousands of lights all around his home.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Utah Man Discovers Friend Living Homeless, Helps Him Return Home