Matt Mauser, whose wife, Christina Mauser, died in the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, auditioned for America's Got Talent during the show's July 6 episode, performing an emotional rendition of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds." Ahead of his audition, Mauser opened up about his late wife while speaking to the judges, sharing that Christina coached basketball at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy.
"I'm a singer. And I'm here because my wife and I...we were both schoolteachers, and we retired from teaching so that I could do the music full-time," Mauser said. "And she got the opportunity to coach girls' basketball with Kobe Bryant. But on January 26th of 2020, I lost my wife in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant." In a pre-taped video package, the singer reflected on his relationship with Christina, revealing that they started dating after Christina saw him play at a dive bar.
"Before January 26th, me and Christina lived this dreamy kind of life," Mauser recalled. "We met in 2004. She came and saw me playing at this dive bar, and I asked her out, and we sat in my car and we talked about music." He continued, "She was just this very humble, powerful, beautiful human being. My mom said, 'If you don't marry that girl, you're stupid.' We were married for 15 years. We had three beautiful children."
Tearing up, Mauser recalled his final moments with his wife. "When she left that day, she kissed me and she said, 'I love you,'' he said. "And that was the last thing my wife ever said to me. Your whole life changes in a second."
"There was pain," continued. "My focus immediately went to my children. You start to say, 'All right, she would want me to carry on.' She would want our kids to have happy lives, which I don't know it's possible, But I'm gonna try. You know, if I had it my way, I would have my wife, and I would be supporting her. But that's not what happened. You know, it's been a rough year. But...here I am." All three of Mauser and Christina's children attended their dad's audition to support him.
"We felt your emotion," Howie Mandel told Mauser following his performance. "If you're able to move strangers, and we can feel it in our hearts... there aren't words to describe it." "It was very emotional, very touching," Sofia Vergara added. "Thank you. Thank you for being here."
After Simon Cowell asked Mauser what he'd like to get out of being on the show, the 51-year-old responded, "I'd like to make sure that my children see that, in spite of the grief that we've been through this year, that that grief is not going to define who we are as a family. And that my children see that you have to find joy in life and you have to continue."
"If this can in any way help my children see that you have to chase your dreams, then I'll take it," he added. The judges gave Mauser four 'yes' votes and he was able to move on to the next round of the competition.