St. Pete musician overcomes childhood illness, blindness

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From the streets to the DJ booth, success has been a long road for Eddie Maultsby.

The St. Pete resident was diagnosed with a rare disease called sarcoidosis at the age of 11.

Doctors told him he would not live past 15 years old. The condition also left him blind. 

"I told my mother to go ahead and make funeral arrangements because all my organs were shutting down," Maultsby remembers. "After I got out of the hospital at 15, I immediately started singing in a gospel group called Eddie and the Wonder Boys in 1978."  

The group didn't work out, but he took his musical talents to the streets of St. Pete, playing for tips during the 80s.

Meanwhile, his health did not take the turn doctors expected. Now Maultsby has been playing eight hours a day for the last 34 years.

"I thank all the people that ever gave me anything," Maultsby said. "I made enough money to survive. It's always been rough for me."

Eddie has found a new passion. He DJs a morning show on community radio station Black Power 96.3 FM.

"The message I have is really giving back, you know, to your community, where you come from," Maultsby explained.

His focus is to help give a hand up to those who need it.

"Be a part of what matters in life and that giving showing love, giving back," he said.

Maultsby gives away $50 each show and, one day, hopes to have his own non-profit to raise money for the less fortunate.