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CNN Larry King Live
Interview With Atlanta Courthouse Shooting Hostage Ashley Smith and Pastor Rick Warren.
Aired October 05, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Atlanta hostage hero Ashley Smith and "Purpose-Driven Life" author Pastor Rick Warren. She read his book to the accused courthouse killer during a long night of terror. The next morning he surrendered. What role did the book play in that dramatic encounter between a troubled single man and an alleged killer? Ashley Smith, Rick Warren together for the hour. We'll take your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Ashley Smith made headlines around the world last March. She was held hostage for several hours by an alleged killer in the Atlanta courthouse rampage. She talked her way out of it and now has written an extraordinary book with some amazing revelations. The book is "Unlikely Angel," the untold story of the Atlanta hostage hero. There you see its cover.
With us is Rick Warren, the author of "The Purpose-Driven Life," which has only sold 25 million copies. In fact, Rick Warren heard about what happened to Ashley from watching LARRY KING LIVE while he was in Africa.
All right, that night had you heard that someone in Atlanta accused of rape had gone nuts in a courtroom, killed some people and ran out?
ASHLEY SMITH, CO-AUTHOR, "UNLIKELY ANGEL": Yes, I had heard but I wasn't really paying too much attention to it. I was moving into a new apartment, had just started the new job at Barnacles (ph), was only there for two days prior. So, I was really getting all my stuff unpacked and not really paying attention to it. I mean I'm from Augusta and so I just didn't -- this is not going to happen to me.
KING: So, what happened?
SMITH: Went home after work and was -- stayed up a little bit later than I had expected putting stuff away and I ran out of cigarettes and went out for cigarettes at two o'clock in the morning.
KING: Know that feeling, two in the morning.
SMITH: Two in the morning and I saw a truck pull up when I left but I didn't think anything big about it. I mean it's two o'clock in the morning in Atlanta. People party in Atlanta. They come home at two o'clock in the morning, especially on Friday night.
So, I just left, went and got the cigarettes and came back and when I came back the truck had moved in a parking space that was closer to the one that I was pulling back into. So, my heart started beating a little bit and I was like, OK, this is -- this might not be good.
KING: Where was your daughter? You have a daughter.
SMITH: She was with my aunt, staying at my aunt's house.
KING: So, you were alone.
SMITH: I was alone in the apartment.
KING: Then what happened?
SMITH: So, I began to worry a little bit but I saw my front door and I said, you know, I've got to make it to the front door, inside, hoping that the person inside the truck was either waiting for somebody else to come out of an apartment or was going to, you know, go up to another apartment.
KING: Hoping for the best.
SMITH: Hoping for the best, exactly. So, I got out of the car and as soon as I shut my door I heard his door shut behind me. So, immediately I just started almost running to the door, quickly walking, unlocked the door, opened the door and turned around and he was right there, I mean as close as you and I are with a gun in my face. I just started to scream.
KING: Did you know right away this was the guy from...
SMITH: No, I did not.
KING: ...the story did not ...
SMITH: I had no idea. I thought, great, I'm about to -- really I thought I'm dead. I've got a gun pointed at my face. I thought I'm dead. But I thought this is a random mugger in Atlanta and here I am. How did I get chosen?
KING: What did he ask you for?
SMITH: He didn't say anything. He just said as I was screaming he said, "Shut up. Don't scream. If you don't scream, I won't hurt you." So, all I could do was trust that. I knew that if I continued to scream he was definitely going to pull the trigger and hurt me, so I just stopped and he drug me inside the house and closed the door and locked it.
KING: At this point do you fear rape?
SMITH: Yes. I started to pray immediately silently, Lord please just let me make it out of here alive. I can prepare myself for rape. I can prepare myself for him to hurt me. Whatever he does I can get through it.
KING: Just make me live. SMITH: Just let me live so I can see Page (ph) my daughter the next day.
KING: Then how did this incredible story of a discussion begin?
SMITH: The discussion with "The Purpose-Driven Life"?
KING: He sent you to the bathroom or something?
SMITH: He sent me straight to the bathroom, said go to the bathroom. Within five minutes or so he asked me if I had been watching the news. I said a little bit. And he said, "You know the whole Brian Nichols thing" and right then my heart just dropped and I was like this can't be happening to me. He took the hat off. He said, "Now do you know who I am"? And I was like, oh wow, please just don't hurt me.
So, a few, I guess it was about 20 or 30 minutes later he wanted to take a shower and he actually -- he actually asked me if I had any marijuana in the house. I mean obviously we talked a little bit. He -- I don't...
KING: Still holding a gun on you?
SMITH: Right and I said no. And, in the attempt to do everything that he said, the words I have ice just came out of my mouth.
KING: Ice is?
SMITH: Crystal meth.
KING: And you were addicted to that?
SMITH: I was addicted to it.
KING: And still had some? You had stopped taking it but still had some?
SMITH: I still had some for me. I had done some the day before.
SMITH: And had slept and then started the day on Friday. And so when he got out of the shower he asked for it.
KING: When he's in the shower why didn't you run?
SMITH: I was tied up at the time.
KING: Oh. SMITH: Right and as soon as I said I have crystal meth, I thought, wow, I've just, you know, said I have this stuff that makes me crazy, makes me -- I mean it put me into a mental hospital.
KING: But you just used it the day before.
SMITH: It took my health. It made me give custody of my daughter up but I've offered it to a man that's allegedly killed these people and...
KING: Had he ever taken it?
SMITH: He said that he hadn't. He said he had heard of it.
KING: So, how did you administer it?
SMITH: But he said that was -- that was just what he needed.
KING: And what did you -- how did you give it to him?
SMITH: I just broke it down for him, crushed it up and put it out in lines for him and he said...
KING: And he sniffed it?
SMITH: Yes. He said, "You're not going to do it with me"? And, I said no. Immediately it was -- and a calm came over me immediately and I heard God say "You can do it now and I'm going to bring you home because you can't -- you can't beat this addiction without me or you can trust me to take control of the situation right now and I'll let you live and you can no to it for good." And that's how the whole "Purpose-Driven Life" began.
KING: We'll get to that in a minute. I haven't forgotten you, Rick.
PASTOR RICK WARREN, "PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE" AUTHOR: This is fascinating.
KING: Were you a believer?
KING: But still a drug user?
KING: Still had lost your child.
SMITH: You know I've been a Christian for -- since probably since I was seven years old and God's been...
KING: But not always on the path.
SMITH: God's been knocking, you know, for this personal relationship. You can't just be a Christian. You have to have a personal relationship with Jesus also and I thought that my addiction was bigger than God and little did I know he's way bigger than my addiction and any other problem I have.
KING: Yes. And, we'll get to this later, a lot of now Christian leaders are angry at the book coming out saying that they thought it was only God and now was it part this amphetamine that worked for you? Did it calm him down?
SMITH: Yes, it calmed him down. That was the miracle of the whole thing to me, one of the miracles was that this drug normally makes people hyper, makes them paranoid, it makes them totally just freak out and go crazy.
KING: Why do they take it then?
SMITH: Why do they? To get things done. I know I took it so I could stay up for days and get work done or school work or whatever.
KING: Here is something that's going to make you crazy, oh give it to me.
KING: But with him it calmed him down?
SMITH: It had the total opposite.
KING: And then you began to read from Rick's book to him?
SMITH: After I said no, it was such a huge point for me, a turning point in my life that I just felt like I needed to get back with God.
KING: Did you tell him you had a daughter and not to harm you?
SMITH: Yes, I did.
KING: What was he like?
SMITH: When he first...
KING: And, remember, he's still the alleged killer right.
KING: And he said he didn't do the rape, right?
SMITH: That's what he told me.
KING: The thing he was accused of in Atlanta.
SMITH: Right. When he first was holding the gun to me he looked like a very angry, scared person just very fearful of -- I don't know of what but he -- and throughout the night he just -- he just seemed to mellow out a little bit and, you know, he did look up one time at the ceiling and say, "Please forgive me." KING: How many hours were you with him?
SMITH: Seven hours.
KING: You also described that he was built very well right?
KING: He took off his shirt? Well, he had taken a shower.
SMITH: He didn't have -- he actually didn't have a shirt on. He had on a blazer and then he had on another jacket on top of that, so when he took the first jacket off you could still see, you could see his chest underneath.
KING: Was he intelligent?
SMITH: He was -- well, he spoke intelligently. He didn't like come in and go what's up or something like that, you know, I mean.
KING: No, but I mean he wasn't stupid?
SMITH: But he was very -- no, not at all and he told me that he had gotten a college scholarship to play football, so I knew that he had been to college.
KING: Did you ever at all enter the Stockholm syndrome?
KING: The liking of the person?
SMITH: I don't think so. I mean I don't -- definitely not.
KING: So, all the time you're thinking how do I get out of this?
SMITH: Exactly. I was scared the whole time.
KING: We'll turn to the book in a minute and this ordeal. We'll be taking your calls in a while. The book is "Unlikely Angel," the untold story of the Atlanta hostage hero. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The workday was just beginning at the Fulton County Courthouse. On the 8th floor, 33- year-old Brian Nichols was being retried on charges of rape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect was on his way to the courtroom. It appears that he was -- he overwhelmed a deputy sheriff on his way to court. It appears that he took possession of her handgun.
MATTINGLY: Authorities believe Nichols fled downtown Atlanta in a (ph) green Honda Accord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nichols is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we do have a hostage situation. SWAT is deployed.
MATTINGLY: The end of a 26-hour manhunt, SWAT teams close in on courthouse shooting suspect hiding out in an apartment near an Atlanta suburb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after the arrival of our SWAT team, Mr. Nichols surrendered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Ashley Smith.
Did you -- were you hesitant writing about the amphetamine?
SMITH: Was I hesitant, no.
KING: No qualms about writing about it?
KING: Because you hadn't told the police had you?
SMITH: Yes, I had actually told the police. After about a week it was -- I was more scared to tell my family than I was the police, you know. It was kind of like I didn't want my family to go "You can't have Page back now, you know. We thought you were on your way up." That's really what I was scared of.
KING: And they're not going to charge you with anything?
KING: You said that already.
KING: How did your husband die?
SMITH: He got stabbed in the heart in a fight one night.
KING: Was the baby born?
SMITH: Yes, she was two and a half actually.
KING: In a fight where in a bar?
SMITH: We had gone out one night and he had ran into an old friend of his and they -- they exchanged some words, which ultimately led to them fighting and them stabbing him in the heart right there.
KING: Is that when you took up drugs? SMITH: I had socially done drugs before. It wasn't -- it didn't run my life. That's when I became plunged into the addiction of drugs. Instead of turning to my family and God for help, I just did that.
KING: Violence has been a -- I'm sorry I was talking at the same time.
KING: Violence has been around you right?
KING: Were you there when the fight occurred?
SMITH: Yes, I was.
KING: Did he die on the spot?
SMITH: He died in my arms.
KING: So now you're faced with this again. Death is around you right?
KING: Did he talk to you about what happened at the courthouse?
SMITH: He did not. He didn't. He just said that he couldn't believe that it was him on the TV when he saw it.
KING: Did you ask him what happened?
SMITH: Not really.
KING: What did you talk about?
SMITH: We talked about several things. We talked about his family and if he had children and, you know, I joke about it now that I talked most of the time telling him about my stories and who I was and the mistakes I had made and so much that when I read the book, I'm like, you know, I'm surprised he didn't say "Will you shut up? You know I'm going to kill you just because you won't shut up" but (INAUDIBLE).
KING: You were nervously talking right?
SMITH: As long as I could hear myself talking (INAUDIBLE).
KING: I'll bet he was saying to himself what the hell did I walk into?
SMITH: It's probably like oops, I picked the wrong girl.
KING: Who needs this right? SMITH: Yes.
KING: Did you ask him -- you asked him about his life. What about he had a cut finger, you mended his finger?
SMITH: Right. When he showed me the wallet of the customs agent I saw that his finger was bleeding. That was after he had brought his tools in the house.
KING: But you didn't talk about the customs agent?
SMITH: We did talk. He said that -- he said "I didn't want to kill him but I had to. He didn't do what I said so I had to."
KING: So you will, of course, be called to testify even though there were many eyewitnesses to this. He's still the alleged killer. You will be called to testify.
SMITH: I'm sure I will.
KING: Was there a point during these hours when you said I think I'm going to make it? I think I've got him calm enough. I think I'm past the point.
SMITH: After I chose not to do the drugs, like I said there was a peace that came over me and I had hope then but throughout the course of the whole night and the morning the thought always stayed in my mind that he could turn any minute and kill me. I mean it never left.
KING: He always kept the gun on you?
SMITH: No, he didn't always keep the gun on me. At some point he just put the guns away and there was one point where he said, "I'd rather you go in there and get them and shoot me than me go out in a shootout later on."
KING: Did you think of then just running out?
KING: Why not?
SMITH: Because all he said to me in the beginning was "Don't make any sudden moves and do not scream and I will not hurt you." And all I could do was go on that. All I could do was -- I knew that if I screamed or if I did make a sudden move then he definitely was going to hurt me and I just wasn't going to take that chance.
KING: Now about 7:30 in the morning you make him breakfast and pancakes.
KING: What's going through your mind?
SMITH: You know I knew that he was going to let me leave.
KING: You knew he was?
SMITH: I already knew that he was going to let me leave and I was very hungry and, you know, God just -- I feel like God led me to do that. I was -- every move that I made I asked god for the next step. What do you want me to do next? And, it just -- that's what I did.
KING: In a minute, we'll ask how it ended. We'll ask about reading Rick's book. We'll bring Rick in. And we'll be taking your calls in a while too for Ashley Smith. The book is "Unlikely Angel." You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Back in the very building where the murderous rampage began, suspect Brian Nichols showed no emotion and gave no insight into his state of mind. But law enforcement sources confirm to CNN that after his capture, Nichols told investigators that he viewed himself as a soldier and that the murder of Judge Rowland Barnes was not personal. Sources say Nichols believed he was lashing out at a racially biased justice system that he called systematic slavery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Ashley Smith. Rick Warren will be joining us momentarily. And we'll also be including your phone calls.
You talked to him about a lot of things. You talked to him about your husband. Now, you follow him in the car. He goes in the truck. Why didn't you drive away?
SMITH: Well, several reasons. I knew he was going to let me leave, so I knew the best thing for me to do was to get him back to that apartment where he had no car to leave in. I thought my car was a total piece of junk at the time, so I figured, hey, it was breaking down every time I got in it and I figured if I tried to drive away then that was really going to make him mad and he would just come to the door and go "Hello."
KING: So, you followed him and drove him back?
SMITH: Yes, I did.
KING: How did he -- give me the end of the scenario. How did he walk -- what happened?
SMITH: When I left?
KING: How did he give himself up?
SMITH: Around, I guess it was around nine o'clock, I had to leave to go see my little girl, so he kept asking me "What time do you need to leave?" I said, "Around nine o'clock I was supposed to meet her at ten."
So, I said, "OK, I'm leaving" and he said, "Well, will you -- is there anything I can do while you're gone?" I'm like, "What? I don't care what you do while I'm gone. I'm going to see my daughter. I'm making it out of here in a minute, bye." So, I turned around and opened the door and left.
KING: And what did you do?
SMITH: I walked to my car with my knees about to hit the floor and sat in my car and immediately looked up in the heavens and said thank you.
KING: Did you call 911?
SMITH: I dialed 911 the first time and it was busy.
SMITH: Yes. And then I dialed 911 the second time and it was busy again. And I'm like, "Hello, I've got something important to tell you. This is important." So the third time I got through.
KING: And they believed you right away?
SMITH: They actually didn't believe me right away. They said, "You need to take us to the truck that you said is the one he arrived in." So, as soon as I showed them the truck, they were like "This is it. It's him." I'm like, no kidding.
KING: What did they do to get him out? Did they have a SWAT team?
SMITH: They didn't -- they actually took me from police car to police car.
KING: So, you weren't there when he was...
SMITH: All I saw was him walking down the hill in handcuffs.
KING: He was apprehended peacefully right?
KING: He didn't put up any resistance?
KING: You didn't think he would did you?
SMITH: I didn't know, you know. I prayed the whole time after I left the house let him give himself up. Don't ...
KING: Now he's on the amphetamine and you start to read Rick Warren's book. This is a book you had read?
KING: OK. How do you know it wasn't the amphetamine that upped him and that the book was just the final, I don't mean to disparage it, they are two powerful things there, Rick's book and the amphetamine?
SMITH: I know the way the amphetamines -- the way they affected me and they made me do things that were not Godly and I just think that God took control of that situation and he came in and he -- he led the end of the situation.
KING: How did you choose what to read to him?
SMITH: I just actually opened up to where I was. I had a bookmark that my daughter had made on that chapter and I just opened it up and started to read.
KING: All right, Rick, you're in Africa.
KING: You turn on this show.
WARREN: Yes, I turned on Larry King and there I see Ashley's picture and you're holding up the book and, of course, it was a big shock to me, a big surprise.
KING: Holding up your book.
WARREN: Yes. Yes, I was -- my wife and I were working in an AIDS clinic actually in Rwanda. You know the amazing thing about this is I've been around recovering addicts for a long time as a pastor for 25 years. We actually have a program called Celebrate Recovery. We've had 7,500 people go through this thing.
So, I know addicts and when people say, oh maybe it was the methamphetamine that caused him to turn himself in, let me tell you what. In the history of mankind nobody stoned has turned themselves in to the police. They just don't do that. You can't find a parole officer anywhere who would say, "Oh, yes, I got stoned and turned myself in."
KING: Why are many of your Christian brethren angry at her now?
WARREN: You know I don't think -- I don't think they are. What I -- I've read a lot of the reports. The people who have belittled this are those who, a) haven't read the book and read the whole story. Larry, this is a story of two redemptions. It's Ashley's redemption and it's Brian's redemption.
And the first came out was here's this brave heroine who helped this guy, you know, turn his life around enough to at least not kill anymore. She stopped the killing and for that that's terrific. But we go back to the story that she was talking about earlier where she said, you know I made this decision to say, "Well, I got ice and immediately regretted it. I mean instantly regretted it and then kind of thought, OK, I did something dumb" and she told him "Look, I'm not going to take the drugs," isn't that right?
SMITH: That's right.
WARREN: Yes, you said, OK, "I'm not going to take them. You can do it but it's bad" and you told him even actually why. And then God said to her, OK, you did -- you stopped the negative. Now do something positive.
SMITH: And that's what I did.
WARREN: Yes, and so she went and got the book.
SMITH: I did try to discourage him too not to take them after I had said it and told him how it ruined my life but that's what I did.
KING: But you said it appeared to help him.
SMITH: It calmed him down. I don't know that it helped him. It just...
KING: Well it calmed him.
WARREN: The point that I would say is that at that point where she said no, in the book she talks about "I felt free for the first time," like she had been -- I know lots of people who are believers who are -- relapse, OK. You know they're good people. They just relapse.
KING: Of course.
WARREN: And they don't have the accountability of a group. I don't think you can get off of an addiction on your own. I really don't. I think you need other people, like a Celebrate Recovery or an AA or something, some kind of group that gives you tough love and gives you accountability. And she didn't have that at that point, so she's relapsing.
KING: Have you relapsed since?
SMITH: No, I have not. I've had a great...
KING: Do you think this incident helped you not to go back?
SMITH: I think this incident changed my life forever. I've never felt like this. I've never wanted to help people get off of it now. The accountability partners, I have the world as accountability partners now really and I wouldn't trade my life. I can feel my daughter's hugs now and that is one of the best feelings in the world.
KING: What's been the impact of this on her?
SMITH: She's glad mommy's home.
KING: She knows the story. She has some idea of it right?
SMITH: She knows. The funny thing is she'll go up to people in the store and she'll go, "My mom's a hero." I'm like mom's your hero, OK, that's all, nobody else's.
KING: Now, Rick.
KING: You believe God was in that room?
WARREN: Oh, without a doubt. There are three or...
KING: And he was also there when he went with the gun?
WARREN: Well, there are three or four truths. God works through people. We've talked about this, Larry, lots of time, like where was God in Katrina?
WARREN: Well, God was in the people who were helping them out of Katrina. That's where he was. He's in the...
KING: Where was he when the wind came?
WARREN: Exactly, well we know that...
KING: Why did the wind come?
WARREN: Well, we know that the world is a broken place. This isn't heaven. That's why we're to pray thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven because God's will is not always done on earth.
KING: So, he gets mad and sends wind?
WARREN: Well, no, no, no. I don't blame -- if I get drunk and I go out and I hit a woman in a car with a pregnant daughter with a baby and she dies, that's not God's will. That's evil. And there is evil in the world.
KING: But the wind whose will is that?
WARREN: Well, because there's evil in the world there are consequences about it and the Bible, I don't want to get into theology on this but the Bible does say the world is broken.
KING: But you believe God was in the room with Ashley?
WARREN: Without a doubt and the cool thing about it, I love this story and the power. It's even more powerful that this has come out that she was an addict. It's even more a story of redemption because it says several things. First, God used imperfect people. She went out to get cigarettes, OK. She had had ice the night before, OK, but she was available. If she had been this perfect saint for 30 years, you would expect her to read "The Purpose-Driven Life" and the Bible to somebody and his life gets turned around. She's trying to get her own life together.
KING: But he's a spirit God right because he can't be -- is he in 56 places at once?
WARREN: Oh, without a doubt.
KING: So, he was in other rooms that night?
WARREN: Oh, without a doubt.
KING: And other homes.
WARREN: Yes, God can be all around the world all at once.
KING: So, he's not a person?
WARREN: God is a person but he's a spirit which means that he's not limited by a body and so in other words as long as he's -- when Jesus was here in flesh, I believe that God was in that body. I do believe that. But God is a spirit and he can be in my heart and Ashley's heart and millions of other people's hearts at the same time.
The neat thing about this is that even -- no matter what kind of bad decision you've made, this is the cool thing about it, you don't have to be stuck with that bad decision.
She said, "Oh, you want some ice," dumb thing to do to a guy who's (INAUDIBLE) but she immediately regretted it. Your past is past. You don't have to stay stuck in your past and you can change.
KING: We're going to take a break and be back. We'll include your phone calls for Ashley Smith. The book is "Unlikely Angel," the untold story of the Atlanta hostage hero. Rick Warren's book is "The Purpose-Driven Life." He gives 90 percent of the proceeds of that book back to his church.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told police Nichols forced her to follow him while he dumped a stolen pickup truck that police say belonged to an immigration and customs official who was found dead early Saturday morning. She told police the two returned in her car and, for the next several hours, she talked to him until he eventually let her go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a female call in saying that he was in her apartment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police and S.W.A.T. teams moved in. Neighbors in this quiet complex were shocked that word spread that the killer was among them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we go to calls, did you get a reward?
SMITH: I did.
KING: Who announced the reward? They announced it immediately while he was loose?
I mean, had they announced it as soon as he went -- did someone say $50,000.
SMITH: I don't know. I don't know.
KING: But you got a reward?
SMITH: I had no idea about the reward until after I was out of the house.
KING: Now they told you that you might have to testify.
SMITH: I'm sure that I will.
KING: Was the person who killed your husband, has he been arrested?
SMITH: Yes, he has been arrested. He's in jail right now awaiting trial.
KING: And you will have to testify there too?
SMITH: I'm sure, yes.
KING: Boy, they're going to keep you busy. You sold 25 million books. How many more have sold since this?
WARREN: Oh, I don't know. It's just a -- just somebody told me the other day that the book's kind of like Dr. Spock's baby book. It just is a perennial. And it just keeps selling. It is in 56 languages now.
KING: So, you don't know how to figures since this occurred?
WARREN: I'm sure it's a lot.
KING: Let's go to calls. Plainfield, Connecticut. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Ashley. I'd like to ask you a question. I believe wholeheartedly that God used you in a mighty way. My question is would you consider visiting him in jail? And if not, why not? Because I was wondering would you consider going to see him and lead him to Christ.
SMITH: I don't have any plans to see him right now. I think that God had a meeting for he and I and it was that night. If God leads me otherwise, then I'll go to see him. But as of right now, I have no plans to. I hope that I somewhat planted a seed that night and he can go on that right now.
WARREN: You know, I made an attempt to go see him. And actually talked to the warden and the chaplain of Fulton County Prison. And was told -- the attorneys said that they weren't allowing people in to talk to him before the trial. But I have made attempts to go see him.
KING: New York City. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Larry, Ashley and Rick. Ashley, it is great to know that you're OK.
SMITH: Thank you.
CALLER: God bless you. My question is to you, how is your daughter Page dealing with this? What was her first reaction after she found out? And how is she dealing with this currently?
SMITH: She saw my picture on the computer, actually, and my grandpa, and she said what is my mommy doing on there? My grandpa said, your mommy's a hero. A she said, well, what's a hero? So, he kind of explained the best that he could.
We kind of keep her away from the television. There are certain parts of the story that she doesn't need to hear as a 6-year-old right now. And I will address those with her when it is time.
But for the most part, sometimes she goes up to people in the stores and says, my mom's a hero. But I just try to tell her, I'm her hero, you know, that's all.
KING: What kind of relationship, Rick, do you have with Ashley?
WARREN: Well, you know, Ashley called the church I guess right after -- while I was still in Africa and talked to some of our staff. And of course, I wanted to talk to her as soon as we got back. And so we did. We've kept up conversation over the phone and through e- mails.
KING: Did you read the book before it came out?
WARREN: No, I didn't. I knew the story. And I actually talk -- helped her find an agent.
KING: You said 90 percent goes to the church of your profits.
WARREN: It actually goes -- we have a foundation called "Acts of Mercy," which helps those infected and effected by AIDS. And my wife leads that foundation.
KING: To Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, I just wanted to say that I've read both of your books and think it's pretty sweet that God is using you guys to bring hope to a lot of people. Here is my question. Pastor Rick, did you anticipate your book doing this?
WARREN: You know, I don't really...
KING: Good question.
WARREN: I don't really think that my book has anything magical in it. It does have about 1500 Bible verses in it. And I have great faith in what the Bible says. And I have seen literally tens of thousands of lives changed.
This is a book that people give to their friends. They read it, then they go out and buy ten other copies. That's the only way a book could sell as many copies as it has. So, I'm surprised that it sold so many. I'm not surprised about the changed lives. I've literally heard thousands of stories.
KING: If you are quoting Bible verse, what are you doing in this book that other books haven't done?
WARREN: It's simple. Einstein once said, you can be brilliant, but if you can't express it in simple ways, your brilliance isn't worth much. And actually I spent 12 hours a day for seven months writing that book. Pulled myself away. And if there's was a 15-word sentence I'd try to make it in 7. I really just tried to make -- there's not a single new thought in "The Purpose Driven Life" that hasn't been said over the last thousands of years. I just happen to say in it a fresh way.
KING: Why did you get it in the first place, Ashley?
SMITH: I actually saw it on my stepdad's table when I came home from recovery one day. And I was like, are you reading this? And I read through it. I tried to read it the first time and made to it chapter 17. And I was like, forget it. That's not the way it said to do it. And then I read it over again when I was deep in the midst of my addiction. I mean, honestly, would do drugs and read it. And I'm like, this is not working.
So the last time I read it was actually I had gone to Augusta to visit Page and this time, and I had a dollar bill from the drugs that I had done a few days before. And I was like, you know, I'm giving this stuff up and put it in there.
And still, even then, I didn't stop. But I continued -- or I started to read the book from that day on. And I took notes on it every day. And I was like -- and I invited God in to speak to me even though I was still battling my addiction, it was still like one week I would do it, and I would say, I don't want to do this anymore. Help me stop. And then I would do it again. And then I would not do it for a week, then I would do it again.
WARREN: Now, there's an important point there, Larry. A book is not enough to stop an addiction. My book is a good book, because it is filled with a lot of practical help, and it's helped a lot of people. But you need more than a book. You have got to have other people in your life. KING: We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: I put my key in the door and I unlocked it. And I turned around, and he was right there. And I started to scream. He said I'm not going to hurt you if you just do what hi say. He wrapped my legs with masking tape and an extension cord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel sorry for him, after this?
SMITH: Yes, I feel sorry for him because I really don't think he meant what -- he didn't -- I don't think he realized what he was doing when he was doing it.
KING: We're back. Are you still in the apartment?
SMITH: No, no. I never went back there.
KING: Never went back.
SMITH: I actually -- I went back one time to get a few clothes, and then my mom actually moved me out of the apartment.
KING: You still have that copy of the book?.
SMITH: I do, yes.
KING: The book copy you read to him?
SMITH: It's signed now, actually.
WARREN: Yes, it's signed now.
KING: Signed by Rick?
WARREN: Yes. And if I ever see it on eBay ...
SMITH: No, it won't be there.
KING: Did you talk to him about your own jail experience?
SMITH: I did, yes.
KING: A lot? What were you in jail for?
SMITH: I was in jail for shoplifting as a teenager and DUI and what else? A simple battery with my stepdad which most of them were dropped and ...
KING: So you exchanged jailhouse ...
SMITH: I did.
KING: You exchanged jailhouse experiences. Did that help, you think?
SMITH: I think it helped relate to him a little bit. And -- because I remember him saying you don't know what it feels like to be there. And I'm like, oh, yes, I do. I do know what it's like.
KING: Do you wish him well?
SMITH: I pray for him every night and hope that he finds his purpose.
KING: Waleska, Georgia. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Ashley, I read your book. It's wonderful.
SMITH: Thank you.
CALLER: I actually know your family. We go way back, especially your mom and I.
CALLER: And my question to you is besides finding the strength to finally break free of your bondage to drugs, in what other ways do you thing that this has impacted your life the most?
SMITH: It's led me back to my family and where I need to be. I have a lot of accountability partners now. And, you know, I often face -- I find myself in my daughter's room praying over her and praying for direction for her life.
And it has made me a stronger mother, because I'm actually sober now and I can feel the feelings I'm supposed to feel and I can make the right decisions that I'm supposed to make. I can actually think and it feels awesome just to be able to think and know what you're thinking.
KING: What does an accountability partner do?
SMITH: They hold you accountable for your actions.
KING: Like in AA, like in Alcoholics ...
SMITH: Pretty much. I haven't been able to go to AA or anything like that now with all the publicity ...
WARREN: The touring.
SMITH: Yes, the touring.
KING: You're still an addictive person. You're still an addictive personality. You have to deal with that every day, don't you?
KING: Are there days that you've wanted drugs?
SMITH: There are no days that I've wanted a drug yet, no.
KING: None at all?
SMITH: You know, I go out and run five miles a day now and take care of myself instead of doing drugs.
KING: Do you ever doubt your faith?
WARREN: Of course.
WARREN: No. But ...
KING: When you see calamity?
WARREN: Doubts are meant to be doubted. Beliefs are meant to be believed, doubts are meant to be doubted. What people do is they get it backwards. You should doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs. What people do is they believe their doubts. That's dumb. So doubt is an OK thing. If it keeps you searching, if it keeps you moving, it's an OK thing.
KING: Newport Coast, California. Hello.
CALLER: Thank you, Larry. Congratulations to you, Ashley. I think you're a remarkable woman.
SMITH: Thank you so ...
CALLER: My question is, were you surprised at how calm you remained under the circumstances? And do you attribute your total calmness to God being in the room with you?
SMITH: And my total -- yes, every bit of it came straight from God. I asked for his guidance and his direction and he gave it to me. I read over the book now in writing through it. And I was like, did I really say that? How was I so bold in some places and how was -- God totally led the whole night. That's all it was. My aunt and I say, it's a God thing.
KING: You still smoke cigarettes?
KING: Gave you up too so you don't have to go out at 2:00 in the morning.
SMITH: Well, actually, my mom has lung cancer so ...
KING: Good way to learn. We'll be back with more and more calls. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Eveleth, Minnesota. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Larry, I have a question for Ashley.
CALLER: I wondered if she had anything to do over again, what would she do differently?
SMITH: Well ...
KING: Well, she wouldn't have taken drugs.
SMITH: Yes, I wouldn't have taken drugs. I would've -- about the night ...
KING: With that night, what?
SMITH: I probably wouldn't have offered him the drugs. But I can't -- I really don't know. I mean, everything that I did that night was from God, and I know that.
KING: Are you surprised at some of the criticism over the drug taking?
SMITH: I'm not surprised.
KING: You expected that?
SMITH: Everybody's going to have their criticism, their doubts, and, you know, I am not a perfect person. I am a sinner saved by God's grace. And that's all. I never claimed to be an angel. That's why my book is called "Unlikely Angel," because God just used me.
WARREN: That's just the greatness of the story.
KING: Are you surprised at some of the criticism?
WARREN: I'm not. Because people will do anything to deny that God is real. I mean, they will. They'll attribute it to drugs over the fact that she said God has a purpose for your life and you're not an accident. You know.
KING: San Antonio, Texas. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Ashley. Hi, Rick. I, too, have survived an incident similar to yours, Ashley. I was kidnapped at gunpoint, robbed and raped and felt that peace of God come over me. And I also am recovering from methamphetamines and by the Grace of god and the 12-step recovery program I've been clean and sober for four years.
I'm wondering do you have future plans for when things do slow down to participate in a 12-step program or Celebrate Recovery? And I'd like to hear Rick tell us some more about recovery.
SMITH: Yes, I do. I plan on getting in Celebrate Recovery as soon as I can, as soon as the tour slows down. And that's where my heart and my passion is now, to help other people. And while I help other people, you guys helped me, too. You don't know how much your call now means to me. Because I know now that there is someone else out there like me and the reason I wrote this book was just to make a difference and help people like us.
KING: You are going to go work for them? Is that it? What are you going to do with your life? You want to get married and have more children?
SMITH: I do. So I don't know.
WARREN: She's going to be a poster child for Celebrate Recover. Celebrate Recover is the fastest growing recovery movement in the world. It started at Saddleback and now is in 16 state prison systems and tens of thousands of churches all around the world: Ukraine, Russia, South Africa.
KING: How does it work?
WARREN: Well, it is 12 steps like the 12-step program. It works on the fact of three things. Number one, there is a God. And we say who he is, his name is Jesus Christ. There is accountability -- as Ashley said, you need other people in a small group. You cannot get well on your own. Then there's the conversion step, third step, which is true in AA, too, which says, I surrender my life, saying my life is unmanageable. It is out of control.
And you know what? It is not just for drugs. It's for every kind of addiction. And I would say that if you were an addict and you're watching Larry King's show tonight, you know, pick up Ashley's book and read it. But also find the Celebrate Recovery program somewhere, because there's a lot near you. This program is used literally around the world in hundreds of hundreds of cities here in America. And, as I said, prisons and things like that. And it really has changed lives. I've seen thousands of lives changed by it. Ashley just happens to be a very visible life.
KING: I've never ask you this, why do you wear those shirts?
WARREN: To irritate you. You know...
KING: I like Hawaii but...
WARREN: You know, I subscribe to the Gilda Radner philosophy of fashion. I wear what doesn't itch.
KING: We'll be right back with more moments with Ashley Smith and Rick Warren. Every time I think Rick is 100 percent (WHISTLES).
We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: You've been through a lot, but someone in the control room wants to know if you're dating?
SMITH: I don't have -- I'm not dating now.
KING: A lot of guys asking you out?
KING: San Diego, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Ashley, I am so glad you're OK and that God used you in this way. I can't imagine the lives changed. But my question is for both of you. Can we win one more for Jesus?
KING: What are you talking about?
WARREN: That is a line from my father's dying bed. It's a story. My dad was a pastor for 50 years. And on his death bed he was laying in bed and the last week of his life he went delusional. He was dying of cancer and he talked out loud in different dreams and things like this. And he talked about all these churches that he'd built. And it's interesting. I've sat and listened to my dad dream for a week.
One night I was sitting in his room, and my wife Kay (ph) and my daughter -- I mean, my niece Allisa (ph) were in the room. And all of a sudden my dad who was dying -- a few hours before he died -- tried to get out of bed. And my wife said, Jimmy (ph), you got to lay down. He tried to get out of bed. I said, Jimmy, you got to lay down. You're dying. You're very frail.
He kept trying to get out of bed. And finally my wife goes, Jimmy, what are you trying to do? And he said, I've got to win one more for Jesus. I've got to save one more for Jesus. And I'm not exaggerating this. Like, he probably said it 150 times in the next hour. Save one more for Jesus. Save one more for Jesus.
I'm sitting next to the bedside and tears start coming down my face. And I bow my head and I'm sitting here thanking God for a father who had a spiritual heritage for me. And my dad raises up his hand and he puts it on my head almost like a blessing. And he says, save one more for Jesus.
And I decided then that that would be the theme for the rest of my life, to tell people, you're not an accident, that God loves you, Jesus died for you so your past can be forgiven. You can have a purpose for living and you can have a home in heaven. KING: Are you going to write a follow-up book? Maybe you have more to say?
WARREN: I get one about every ten years. We will serve no book before its time.
KING: Are you enjoying having a book out?
SMITH: I am. This has been very healing for me.
KING: It is a catharsis?
SMITH: It has been, and it's reaching people too because I'm getting e-mails already saying thank you.
WARREN: And I ...
KING: One more quick call. Boston, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. Ashley and Pastor Rick, first of all, may God continue to bless you the way you have blessed others. I've read the book. And I can't get enough of watching Ashley's interviews. And Ashley, the question I have for you is could this ordeal possibly launch a public speaking career or maybe even a ministry? I hope it does because you're a wonderful speaker.
KING: OK, we've only got about 25 seconds.
SMITH: Thank you. I've had several offers to speak and it is something that I'm going to look into and I would like to do. As far as the ministry wise, I don't know where God's going to lead me. You know, I'm open to whatever he has for my -- planned for my life.
KING: Think she'll be good, Rick?
WARREN: Oh, fantastic. And I'll be her agent.
KING: Hey, not bad, Pastor Smith. You could definitely do good on the speaking tour.
WARREN: There you go.
KING: You do, you read ...
WARREN: You know why? Because she's authentic.
WARREN: She's not telling a line.
KING: Thank you both very much.
SMITH: Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you.
KING: The book is "Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero," the guest Ashley Smith, and of course Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life."
Tomorrow night, Carol Ratzuel (ph) will join us of the Kennedy clan. She's got a new book out that's quite revealing.
Speaking of revealing, you've got two hours of revelations coming. NEWSNIGHT with the dynamic -- there they are, the dynamic duo. Aaron Brown and Anderson Cooper -- which one is which? Guess folks. Here they go.
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