This young violin player just captured the hearts of America.
Tyler Butler-Figueroa stepped onto the America’s Got Talent stage donning a suit and his shiny sneakers, carrying his violin in one hand. The young boy looked more than ready to show off his violin-playing skills.
But more than his flashy footwear, the night ahead is about to become much brighter, as the boy is set to fire up the stage with his incredible performance.
Before starting his performance, new judge Julianne Hough asked Tyler how he came to play the violin, and the boy responded with a heartbreaking answer. He revealed that he wanted to be a violin player because he was being bullied in school.
During the age of 4, Tyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“One day we were out to dinner, and I thought, ‘Something doesn’t look right with Tyler. He looked kinda pale. So a mother’s instinct said, let me get him to the emergency room,” Kisua, Tyler’s mother, said.
Blood tests confirmed that her son had cancer in his blood. She said that it was “the worst day of her life”.
Tyler’s chemotherapy treatment caused him to lose his hair, and that is when the bullying started.
“I was sad and embarrassed. [The bullies] would spread rumors to say that my cancer was contagious and they all wanted to stay away from me,” Tyler said.
One day, Tyler came across a flyer for after-school violin lessons. He begged his mother if he could go and at first, Kisua was doubtful – nobody in their family plays an instrument. But she agreed, and it was one of the best decisions that she’s ever made. Tyler kept practicing, and his mom saw the “sunshine” return to her once lonely son.
“When I play the violin, it makes me forget about the bad stuff,” Tyler said.
As it turns out, his violin-playing skills can make others forget the “bad stuff”, too.
On the America’s Got Talent stage, Tyler masterfully played the violin accompanied by Kelly Clarkson’s inspirational song “Stronger”. The first line of the chorus, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, resonated with the judges and the audience. The verse perfectly represented this boy who has been through so much and is still here – living his life to the fullest.
After his energetic performance, the whole auditorium erupted in loud cheers and applause. Everyone rose to their feet, obviously in awe of what they just saw.
Tyler couldn’t help but get emotional with the response that he got!
Julianne commended the violin player for “taking something that’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to go through, and turning it around and finding something that brings you joy.” Judge Simon Cowell, on the other hand, all had “Wow. Wow. Wow.” to say.
Simon asked Tyler for an update on his health, and the boy revealed the good news that he has been in remission for almost four years now. He also said that he feels “really proud” of himself.
“You know what you are is an amazing young man. We hear too many stories about being bullied. But I can tell you one thing: Most people are bullied because they are better than the people who bully them,” Simon said.
And as a message to his bullies, Simon pushed the golden buzzer! This means that Tyler will go straight to the live shows in Hollywood.
Simon joined Tyler and his mom onstage to congratulate him personally, and to remind him to “enjoy every moment”.
Watch Tyler’s hair-raising performance in the video below.
A golden buzzer for a golden performance. Surely, we will see more of this young boy’s talent in the days to come. A big congratulations to Tyler!
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