What America's Got Talent Means to Kodi Lee and His Family

The blind and autistic singer wowed everyone with his performance in the season 14 premiere

By Lauren Piester Jun 05, 2019 2:37 AMTags
Watch: Kodi Lee Reacts to Viral "America's Got Talent" Stardom

With one performance on America's Got Talent, Kodi Lee became a star.

The 22 year-old singer is blind and autistic and he also has an incredible voice that wowed all four judges during last week's premiere, and even got Gabrielle Union to hit the Golden Buzzer, sending him straight through to the live shows in Hollywood later in the season. 

The video of his performance has been viewed over 26 million times on Youtube as of press time, and even Simon Cowell said he'd remember the performance for the rest of his life. 

Kodi and his mother Tina Lee sat down with E! News' Erin Lim to talk about his performance and what it's been like in the week since. Kodi was particularly excited about a tweet from Oprah, and Tina said that the response has been kind of a relief to her. 

Gabrielle Union & Julianne Hough Ready for "America's Got Talent"

"We've been working really hard. To hear that from [Simon], was like we were doing the right thing with his talent," she says. "You know with him having the autism and the talent, and a lot of people will be like, oh, is it because you want to feel sorry for him to give him the praise? And it's like no, we've all known—his family—that he's extremely talented, and for him to say that only made us feel that we were on the right path to show the world that he is super talented." 

Tina also opened up about everything that she and her family had to work through with Kodi to help him get comfortable with performing. 

"He's just learned to work with it. He's learned to control it. He's learned to deal with the emotions, because that's how we taught him," she explains. "We taught him with that therapy every day for years that when you walk outside like all of us, you've got to put on that happy face. You've got to deal with the people, you've got to socialize with the people. Even though he had this musical talent, he still had all of the same behaviors as any autistic child, and every parent asks how do we help them? How do we help them deal with our world? And when I saw that he was an entertainer, that was my cue to say, oh my gosh, that's what I'm going to use to help him deal." 

Watch the video above to hear more! 

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

E! and NBC are both part of the NBC Universal family. 

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