Tuesday's episode of America's Got Talent saw contestant Kodi Lee perform a powerful rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," with the performance earning Lee a standing ovation.
Sitting at a piano, Lee needed no frills to complete the acoustic performance, touching the crowd with his vocals and undeniable talent as he made his way through the classic song.
The 22-year-old finished the song to a rousing ovation from the audience and judges, with judge Gabrielle Union visibly wiping away tears as she sat back down.
"Kodi, you changed the world and you keep changing the world," she told him. "Who you are and what you stand for and what you continue to do makes the world so much more of a better, beautiful place, and we have to stop putting limits on our children, we have to keep believing in each other."
"Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey," she added.
Judge Simon Cowell was also impressed, telling Lee, "You continually amaze me. And it made me realize, we are nothing without people like you...you are genuinely one of the most extraordinary people and talents we've had the great fortune to have on any show we've ever made. God bless you."
Lee is blind and autistic and quickly became a fan favorite during the Season 14 premiere when his performance of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You" earning him the golden buzzer from Union, who cried while sending Lee through to the next round. Tuesday's episode saw Lee compete in the quarterfinal round of the season, which will continue on Wednesday's episode.
“I’m beyond proud of him, this whole thing has been magical,” Lee's mom, Tina Lee, told PEOPLE after her son's performance on Tuesday. “Just to see the way that people are accepting him and loving him, it’s magical.”
“It’s so nice to see [audiences] enjoy his talent and not look at his disabilities. They see the real, real extraordinary talent in him,” she added. “I feel relieved I’m not the only one who’s seen this extraordinary ability. He’s got a real talent, and I’ve always known he’s this real talent.”
Tina, who helps Kodi onto the stage and remains side stage to cheer him on, shared that Kodi's family support has been a driving factor in helping him to succeed.0comments
“We worked as a family to help him just to be able to exist and co-exist with autism in our world,” she said. “It’s been really hard for him, especially when your emotions are harder, they’re harder for him to deal with. The emotions are intensified for him. Our family works together to carry him through and support him.”
Photo Credit: America's Got Talent