'America's Got Talent' 22-Year-Old Blind Singer With Autism Had Gabrielle Union Bawling

Gabrielle Union couldn't hold back her tears — or her trigger finger — on America's Got Talent during Tuesday night's season 14 premiere.

The L.A.'s Finest star, 46, gave her first-ever Golden Buzzer to 22-year-old singer Kodi Lee, who brought tears to many in the audience, including Union and fellow new judge Julianne Hough.

"I bawled. I cried probably from their first steps on stage," Union told PEOPLE of Lee, who walked on stage with his mother, Tina, who told judges that her son is blind and autistic.

"We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge, and he started singing, that's when I was in tears," Tina told judges Union, Hough, Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell.

"I realized he's an entertainer. 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," she added.

Lee blew everyone away with his vocal talents during his rendition of Donny Hathaway's "A Song for You," which he played beautifully on the piano.

"I'm a new judge this season and I'm also a new mom this year. It's the toughest job I've ever had and the most rewarding job I've ever had," Union told Kodi and Tina, referring to her daughter Kaavia, who was born via surrogate in November 2018.

"You just want to give your kids the moon, the stars and the rainbows. Tonight, I'm going to give you something special," the mother of one said before pushing the Golden Buzzer.

All four judges were in agreement about the magical moment.

"All four judges and everybody in this room were up on their feet, I will tell you that. You were wonderful, not only did we feel the authenticity of what you do, but you're a great inspiration and a great talent. That was amazing!" Mandel said.

"I know everybody needs a voice and an expression. And I really feel that your heart, your passion, your voice blew all of us away. I just want to say: I heard you and I felt you, that was beautiful," Hough said, wiping away tears.

Cowell, who was once known as the "tough guy" of the group (but has since softened up), called the experience "extraordinary" and said he'd remember it for the rest of his life.

"What just happened there was extraordinary, I mean really extraordinary," Cowell said. "I don't know what it's like to live in Kodi's world. All I can tell is you obviously have an amazing relationship the two of you and your voice is absolutely fantastic. You have a really beautiful tone. Thank you so much for trusting us on this show. I'm going to remember this moment for the rest of my life."

Lee will move forward in the competition and head straight to the live finals in Hollywood.


America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Photo credit: Trae Patton/NBC