The Untold Inspiring Story of 'AGT' Golden Buzzer Pick Kodi Lee

Photo credit: NBC
Photo credit: NBC

From Women's Health

America's Got Talent has featured some beyond-incredible acts over the course of 14 seasons. But Southern California native Kodi Lee might just be giving them all a run for their money.

Kodi, who is blind and has autism, received roaring applause on the first episode of the season from the AGT audience, as well as judges Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough, and Howie Mandel.

"You're a great inspiration and a great talent. It was amazing," Howie said. "I heard you, and I felt you, and that was beautiful," Julianne told the 22-year-old singer, as she held back tears. Simon then remarked that he was going to "remember this moment for the rest of my life."

The biggest compliment of all was when Gabrielle slammed her hand on the golden buzzer and sent Kodi straight to the live shows.

But well before any of this AGT magic happened, Kodi was working exceptionally hard to master his craft. As his website states, Kodi is a savant and has been playing piano and singing across the world for years. He has an audio photographic memory and can easily recall music after listening to it just one time - including songs in different languages.

According to The San Diego Union Tribune, Kodi was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia at just three months old, a visual disorder that has rendered him legally blind. Then, at age four, he was diagnosed with autism.

The conditions reportedly have affected his hormones and how he processes emotions. Although Kodi laughs spontaneously, Tina said he can’t tell people when he is hurting or in danger.

Even still, he can play more than six instruments and has been performing since he was just three. On top of that, he is also a talented tap dancer.

"He’s a born entertainer," Kodi's mom, Tina, told the outlet. "He is such a happy boy. He is loving and inspiring and has so much to offer the world.”

His incredible talents have earned him invitations to sing at several prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York City.

"When you're autistic, it's really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music," Tina said on Tuesday's season 14 premiere.

Looking ahead, Kodi will get a shot at the winning title during the live shows later this summer. Tina told the Tribune back in 2012 that her son had hoped to be on AGT or American Idol one day, a win for Kodi would be one of his greatest accomplishments yet.

“This is Kodi’s dream,” Tina said. “Right now, he teaches himself. He’s a genius."

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