“America’s Got Talent” act Tyler Butler-Figueroa reduced viewers to tears after Simon Cowell helped him to fight off the bullies by pressing his golden buzzer.
Eleven-year-old Tyler from North Carolina blew the judges away as he performed on the violin to Kelly Clarkson’s single Stronger after revealing he started playing the instrument after being bullied following a battle with Leukemia.
“They would spread rumors to say my cancer is contagious and they all wanted to stay away from me,” he told the panel.
“When I play the violin it helps me forget about all the bad stuff. I didn’t want to be the kid with cancer. So now I’m the kid who plays the violin.”
Tyler, who has been in remission for almost four years, received a standing ovation from the judges and the audience, with Gabrielle Union wiping tears from her eyes and Julianne Hough commending him for “taking something that’s probably been one of the hardest things [he’ll] ever have to go through and turning it around and finding something that brings [him] joy.”
Cowell said: “You are an extraordinary young man. We hear too many stories about people being bullied but I can tell you one thing – most people are bullied because they are better than the people who bully them.
“I think you have such an amazing talent and such a personality.”
Cowell said he “would like to say something on your behalf to the bullies” before he stood up and hit the golden buzzer.
Confetti rained down as Tyler ran into his mother’s arms to huge cheers from the audience. They were then joined on stage by Cowell who shook his hand and asked: “Are you ready for this? You’re a winner, right?”
Tyler will go straight through to the live semi-finals in Hollywood later this year. He will be joined by Union’s golden buzzer act, Kodi Lee. The blind and autistic singer performed an emotional piano rendition of Donny Hathaway’s A Song For You.
“America’s Got Talent” airs Tuesdays on NBC in the US and drops Thursdays on Netflix UK.