Since Kodi Lee first came onto the “America’s Got Talent” scene, he’s stolen hearts with both his impressive natural talent and his touching story of determination and positivity.
Any contestant would have been thrilled to be in Kodi’s shoes, but the 22-year-old blind and autistic singer has beaten the odds multiple times and continues to shine ever since receiving the golden buzzer.
“He’s making people believe in something they didn’t even know is attainable,” Gabrielle Union told People in August. “He’s magic.”
“There are a lot of people in the world we put limits on. We say, ‘This is what’s good for you.’ We hold people back with our shortsighted thinking and our bigoted views. You have a family like Kodi’s who supports him and sees the beauty and the immense talent. They fought for those resources,” she added.
“Kodi’s family fought to make sure that he had a stage to be brilliant on — whether that stage was in their living room or on the world’s biggest talent show,” she said. “They never stopped fighting for him, that’s huge.”
Throughout the entire process, Lee has maintained an upbeat attitude and wowed viewers with performance after stunning performance.
“Congratulations to all the finalists,” he wrote on Facebook on Sept. 11. “I will miss all the other fellow contestants. You all are soooo amazing and I am so honored to have met you all. I can’t wait to be apart of one of the most Mega Mega Finals ever!”
“I am honored to be apart of America’s Got Talent!!” he posted earlier. “Being able to share my talent with the world are moments I will never forget.”
“My heart fills with joy and gratitude when I hear you chanting Kodi, Kodi, Kodi, Kodi…the feeling of love and inspiration runs through my body! ‘You Are the Reason’ I love what I do and thank you for spreading love with me.”
“Your support makes us stronger together as we change the world! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! I love you all! Love, Kodi.”
After Lee’s performance of “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings, Mandel had a prediction about the young man.
“Two words come to mind: ‘Heck yeah,’” the judge said, according to USA Today. “I think Season 14 is the season of Kodi Lee and if I had to predict…you are going to walk away with a $1 million.”
Mandel’s words rang true during the reveal on Sept. 18, when it was down to just two contestants: Kodi Lee and the Detroit Youth Choir. Kodi Lee’s mother spoke quietly to him as they waited anxiously for the results, but the crowd was chanting Kodi’s name even before Terry Crews read the winning name and confirmed everyone’s suspicions.
Now he’ll be able to continue doing what he loves, both in Las Vegas and beyond.
“Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does,” his mother, Tina, told People. “It actually has saved his life playing music.”