American Idol's 17th season kicks off this weekend. The show has had its share of exciting moments, but also tragedies throughout its long history.
Six contestants died in the years after their performances. Most recently, Leah LaBelle, who appeared on the show's third season, died in a car crash in California last year.
Rickey Smith, Joanne Borgella, Michael Johns, Alexis Cohen and Paula Godspeed are the other contestants who made memorable impressions on Idol fans before their deaths.
The second season of American Idol on ABC starts Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, with Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie returning as judges. Bobby Bones joined as an in-house mentor and Ryan Seacrest is the host.
Scroll on for a look at the lives of the Idol singers who are no longer with us.
Photo credit: Getty / WireImage
Leah LaBelle finished 12th in American Idol Season 3. The Toronto, Ontario native had a brief recording deal in 2011 with L.A. Reid's Epic Records. On Jan. 31, 2018, LaBelle and her boyfriend, basketball player Rasual Butler, were killed in a car crash in Studio City, California. She was 31 years old.
The autopsy revealed that Butler had drugs and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash. A toxicology report showed his blood alcohol level was .118, above the legal limit. LaBelle's blood alcohol level was .144.
Rickey Smith, who appeared on American Idol Season 2, was killed by a drunk driver in Oklahoma City on May 5, 2016. He was 36 years old.
Smith finished eighth place on the show and was close friends with Ruben Studdard, who won Idol that season. He began a music career in Los Angeles, but moved back to Oklahoma when that did not pan out.
"As I sit here in utter disbelief about the fact that you went to be with the Lord," Studdard wrote on Instagram after Smith's death. "I think back on all the fun times we had. How we set up for hours in our room in the Idol Mansion talking and listening to music. How much fun we all had on our very first tour. You were the heart of our season and the true definition of a real friend.. I will miss you my Friend RIP Ricky Smith. I'm sure you're in heaven singing you're heart out!!!"
Joanne Borgella impressed the judges during American Idol Season 7, reaching the Top 24. She also won the first season of Mo'Nique's Fat Chance pageant in 2005.
In October 2014, Borgella died from a rare form of endometrial cancer, which spread to her brain. The Brooklyn native was 32 years old.
Michael Johns was an Australian singer who started a career in Atlanta before he appeared on Idol Season 7 in 2008. He finished in eighth place and took part in the American Idol Live! tour after the season. He released the album Hold Back My Heart and an EP entitled, Love and Sex.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Orange County Coroner's report said Johns died from an enlarged heart and a "fatty liver." His death came after he suffered a leg injury. Johns was 35 years old.
Alexis Cohen was featured in the auditions episodes of Seasons 7 and 8. Nicknamed "Glitter Girl" by fans, judge Simon Cowell was unimpressed with her performances of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer."
In July 2009, Cohen was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. She was 25.
Paula Godspeed did not make it past the auditions in Season 5. She was obsessed with then-judge Paula Abdul, even legally changing her first name from Sandra to Paula. She created portraits of Abdul, which were shown when she performed.
Godspeed, who was born Sandra May McIntyre, died by suicide by drug overdose. She died in her car, parked outside Abdul's home in Sherman Oaks, California.
Her death gained international attention, particularly after her family said she had a history of mental illness. As The Telegraph reported at the time, Godspeed used her MySpace blog to write about how difficult life became after her audition, in which Cowell mocked her braces.
"Paula reacted pretty much the way anyone would react," her sister, Sonja McIntyre, told Good Morning America. "Saying that she had a bridge in her mouth? That's rude. She didn't go there for looks, she went there for vocals. She went there to sing."