Kodi Lee, Blind Contestant With Autism, Wins 'America's Got Talent'
An "America's Got Talent" contestant who is blind and has autism won the competition after impressing judges and the country with his singing and piano-playing talents. Kodi Lee, 22, won the contest Wednesday night over the Detroit Youth Choir.
Lee will be awarded $1 million and he will get the chance to headline shows at the Paris Hotel Casino in Las Vegas from November 7-10. Lee said he felt "unbelievable" and "amazing" –– with his mother Tina an arm's length away. Judges Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Howie Mandel clapped away for the young superstar.
A night earlier, Lee wowed audience members with his finals performance of "Lost Without You" by Freya Ridings. He also sang and played the piano seamlessly with "X Factor" winner and three-time Grammy nominee Leona Lewis, singing Calum Scott's "You Are the Reason."
Lee first emerged in May when he performed a beautiful rendition of Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You." Some of the judges teared up during his act. Every single person in the audience stood up and clapped for Lee, who left everyone in awe.
Cowell considered the performance unforgettable. "What just happened there was really extraordinary. I'm going to remember this moment for the rest of my life."
His mother explained on stage that music allowed Lee to excel despite his struggles. "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. It actually has saved his life, playing music."
Union, a new mother herself, praised Tina for doing everything possible for her child. She rewarded Lee with a golden buzzer, then, her first of the season, which ensured his bid in the show's final round.