Freddie Combs, Former 'X Factor' Star, Dead at 49

Freddie Combs, a former contestant on the Fox series The X Factor, died last Friday, his wife Kay told TMZ. He was 49 years old. Kay told TMZ that Freddie, a minister, was surrounded by friends and family at a hospital in Florida. She said the death was not related to COVID-19 but the result of kidney failure.

Combs was a contestant on the second season of The X Factor and became a fan favorite. Kay told TMZ Combs was working hard over the past 11 years to get his weight down. He had weighed over 900 pounds at one point and got down to 385 pounds. Kay said she knew Combs was going to pass away one day before he did, saying, "I have so much gratitude to be his wife for 25 years and to be his best friend."

When Combs appeared on The X Factor, he wowed everyone with his version of "Wind Beneath My Wings." Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid said he could return if he promised to get healthy and out of the wheelchair. He was eliminated from the show but his story caught the eye of many fans as he lost more than 400 pounds at the time he was on the show from 2009 when he was at 920. In a 2012 interview with Reality Wanted, Combs talked about why he wanted to try out for The X Factor.

"In 2010 we did with TLC and because of that I was contacted by a producer from RTL Television in Europe and we did a documentary for European television," Combs said. "He is the one who encouraged me to try out. He actually set the interview up. I interviewed initially in Nashville and he was the one who encouraged me to audition."  

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Combs also talked about the audition process. "I was very excited," he said. "With that many people in the auditorium, the excitement level is incredible. I was very tired that day. It had been a long day of auditions and mine was toward the end. I was very optimistic that they would recognize my talent. I was, however, a little nervous about the fact that I was not what they would expect to be coming on the stage." The second season of The X Factor aired in 2012 and featured Cowell, Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as the judges. Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian were the hosts.