James Durbin may have been booted off American Idol Thursday night, but for many who watched him throughout the show, the young man with high-level autism and Tourette syndrome became the only real American Idol on the show.
The young father who loves to sing heavy metal was eliminated just before the "Hometown Hero" visits for the Top 3. Those remaining three contestants go home on private jets for the full star treatment replete with parades, cheerleaders, and more. For many, it's a shame Durbin won't be there. His final words were inspiring:
Man, I worked so damn hard to get here. And ... God, I was really hoping to get there, but I had a feeling today .... I did so much stuff that's never been done on this show before.
Ryan Seacrest said that Durbin is the reason they do the show. And it's true.
In Durbin's audition tape, the 21-year-old from Santa Cruz, California revealed that he and his girlfriend struggle financially to raise their toddler son. Her support and love helped him get on the show in the first place. There is no one who could watch that segment and not be touched.
Durbin said that singing became his escape from the Tourette's diagnosis he got as a boy: "When I sing, it just all goes away, I don't have a care in the world." If that is not inspiring, then what is?
As a parent, we all hope our kids are completely healthy and without challenges. It's only natural. But sometimes it's those very challenges we want to avoid that actually make us who we are. Durbin is inspiring not just because of his talent, though he certainly has that in abundance, but also because of what he has been able to overcome in his life. Here he is, on about as public a public stage as it gets, belting out the songs that mean something to him. He has a girlfriend who loves him enough to cry as he auditions and leave little notes of encouragement -- "I believe in my gift" -- all over their house. Most of all, he has the strength and fortitude to follow his dreams.
What more could a parent want?
Though the 72 million votes cast in total for American Idol for Thursday night's elimination didn't keep him on the show, his heart-inspiring attitude will not be forgotten. My guess is that he is the real breakout star from this season.
He is impossible to resist -- heart, talent, love of family, and star power. He is everything most of us want our children to become.
Are you as inspired by him as I am?
Image via YouTube