Tyler Butler-Figueroa performed Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” on the violin.
“I started playing the violin when I was 7 1/2,” Butler-Figueroa told the judges before his performance.
“I wanted to play the violin because I was being bullied at school,” he continued.
He said he had cancer and almost died; other kids made fun of him when he lost his hair during chemotherapy.
The North Carolina native said he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 4 1/2.
“One day we were out to dinner,” his mother explained. “I said ‘Something doesn’t look right with Tyler.’”
She said her son was pale.
“A mother’s instinct said let me get him to the emergency room,” she said.
Doctors did some blood work and told Tyler’s mother that her son had leukemia.
“It was the worst day of my life,” she said.
Tyler began chemotherapy and lost his hair.
“When I lost my hair I was really sad and embarrassed at the same time to go to school,” Tyler explained.
“They used to make fun of me and laugh at me,” Tyler said of the other kids at school.
He said some of the kids started rumors that his cancer was “contagious.”
“They all wanted to stay away from me,” he said.
Tyler’s sadness changed when he saw a flyer at school for violin lessons.
He signed up for the class and practiced as much as he could.
“Once he started that class, it was like a sunshine,” his mother said. “He was just full of energy and happy. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I got my son back’.”
“When I play the violin it helps me forget about all the bad stuff,” Tyler said.
After his performance, Tyler said, “I’m feeling really proud of myself.”
He also said he’s been in remission for almost four years.
That’s when judge Simon Cowell hit the Golden Buzzer, guaranteeing Tyler a spot in the live shows.