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Contestants on America's Got Talent are known for delivering emotional performances in the face of overcoming all odds. But Matt Mauser might have delivered the most affecting one yet.
While introducing himself to the judges on Tuesday's show, Mauser – a seasoned musician hailing from Orange County who has spent more than two decades performing – revealed that he was auditioning a year after his wife, Christina Mauser, was killed in the same helicopter crash that took the life of NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Mauser explained that he met Christina while performing at a dive bar in 2004. A school teacher who retired so her husband could pursue his music full-time, she gained the opportunity to coach a girls basketball team with Bryant at the Mamba Sports Academy.
Trae Patton/NBC Matt Mauser on America's Got Talent
"You know if I had it my way, I would have my wife and I'd be supporting her but that's not what happened," he told AGT. "It's been a rough year, but here I am." The singer then launched into an emotional and soulful performance of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," earning a standing ovation from the judges and tears from his three children, who were watching from the wings.
"I would like to make sure that my children see that in spite of the grief that we've been through this year, that grief is not going to define who we are as a family," Mauser told Simon Cowell after the judges praised him for his performance. "And that my children see that we have to find joy in life and we have to continue. If this can in any way help my children to chase their dreams, then I'll take it."
In January, Mauser spoke to People about his AGT audition, saying that he hoped to bring attention to his wife's charity, the Christina Mauser Foundation, which supports female high school athletes by providing scholarships and financial aid. "If I were blessed enough to win the show, 100 percent of my earnings would go to Christina's foundation," he told People. "Christina loved nothing more than to empower young females in life so this is a great way to keep her legacy alive."
Watch Mauser's emotional performance below.