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11 February 2020, 16:31 | Updated: 11 February 2020, 16:36
Young violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa, a standout contestant in the 2019 season of America’s Got Talent, is now competing in the finals of AGT: The Champions.
Hailing from North Carolina, Tyler was bullied by classmates after being diagnosed with leukaemia aged just four and a half.
Before his first AGT audition, Tyler said: “I just didn’t want to be the kid with cancer. So now, I’m the kid who plays the violin.”
According to TMZ, the 11-year-old musician is on the cusp of landing a record deal. He could allegedly get a $100,000 advance on his first album if he’s declared the winner of season 14.
After his first audition, Simon Cowell tweeted: “I am always amazed every year who we meet on our Shows. And I would love you to meet Tyler and this is his Golden Buzzer moment.”
Tyler is an 11-year-old American violinist and fifth-grader at Walnut Creek Elementary in North Carolina, US. He started playing his instrument when he was seven and a half years old.
“I wanted to start playing the violin because I was being bullied in school,” Tyler said in his first audition for America’s Got Talent. “It’s because I had cancer, I almost died.”
“The doctors treated me with chemotherapy. When I lost my hair, I was really sad and embarrassed at the same time to go to school. They used to make fun of me and laugh at me because I was different. They would spread rumours to say that my cancer was contagious, and they all wanted to stay away from me,” Tyler continued.
His mother, Kisua, added: “One day, Tyler saw a flyer at his school and it said, ‘After school programme – free violin lessons.’ He said, ‘Mom, I want to do it.’ But no one in our family plays an instrument… and the violin?!
“Once he started that class, it was like a sunshine. He was just full of energy and happy. I was like, ‘I’ve got my son back.’”
Tyler, who has been in remission for four years now, received a standing ovation from the audience and four judges after his first audition.
“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’re better than the people who bully them,” Cowell told Tyler.
Audiences love him – but Tyler is up against some stiff competition in the final.
The winner will be revealed next Monday (17 February).