Simon Cowell gave the golden buzzer to an 11-year-old violinist, a cancer survivor, on Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent, which will send him straight through to the live rounds.
North Carolina boy Tyler Butler-Figueroa, stunned the America’s Got Talent crowd with an electrifying performance of Kelly Clarkson’s 2012 ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),’ bringing the audience to their feet and making the judges emotional.
“Wow wow wow,” Simon said after his incredible rendition.
Tyler told the America’s Got Talent judges he started playing violin when he was seven-and-a-half-years-old, because he was being bullied at school.
When judge Julianne Hough asked why he was being bullied, Tyler gave a heartbreaking response which touched the crowd.
“It’s because I had cancer. I almost died,” Tyler replied.
Backstage his mom explained that at the age of 4, Tyler was diagnozed with leukemia.
“One day we were out to dinner, and we said ‘Something doesn’t look right with Tyler.’ He turned kind of pale,” she said.
Tyler rushed to the emergency room, and blood tests showed he had cancer.
“It was the worst day of my life,” his mom said.
The 11-year-old explained how his classmates picked on him because his hair started falling out as he started his chemotherapy treatments.
“When I lost my hair, I was really sad and embarrassed at the same time to go to school. They used to make fun of me and laugh at me because I was different,” he explained.
His classmates spread rumors that he was contagious, and warned each other to keep a distance from him.
Tyler turned his life around with his violin classes, his mom said.
“Once he started that class, it was like a sunshine,” she said. “He was full of energy, happy. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I got my son back!” She said.
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Tyler told the America’s Got Talent judges the violin brings him happiness.
“When I play the violin, it helps me forget about all the bad stuff,” he said. “I just didn’t want to be the kid with cancer, so now I’m the kid who plays the violin.”
The boy wowed the crowd with violin solo, and Simon praised his performance, telling him that the bullies were jealous.
“Most people are bullied because they’re better than the people who bully them,” he said.
“I think you have such an amazing talent, such a personality, and I would like to say something, on your behalf, to the bullies,” Simon said, before reaching over to smash his golden buzzer, covering the stage in golden confetti.
— America's Got Talent (@AGT) June 12, 2019
Tyler ran backstage to hug his mom before joining the judges on stage.
“You’re a winner right?” Simon asked Tyler, who has been in remission from cancer for several years. “Can I shake your hand? Enjoy every moment of this.”
“I was confident that I would get a yes to go to the next level, but I never thought I would get the golden buzzer. Simon was telling me to not let bullies stop me from what I’m doing in life,” the youngster quipped.
“When the gold was falling, it just felt like it was in slow motion,” he added. “It just feels like a dream come true.”