The Untold Story of 'AGT' Golden Buzzer Pick and Finalist Kodi Lee

Kayla Keegan
Photo credit: Youtube

From Good Housekeeping

  • Kodi Lee is a 2019 quarterfinalist on season 14 of America's Got Talent.
  • The 22-year-old vocalist won Gabrielle Union's golden buzzer after his first AGT audition, which aired this past May.
  • Kodi Lee is legally blind and was diagnosed with autism at age four.

America's Got Talent has hosted many gifted acts over its 14 seasons on air. But Kodi Lee might just be the best one of them all.

The Southern California native, who is blind and has autism, received a standing ovation from the AGT audience and judges Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough, and Howie Mandel during the first episode of season 14.

"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 battled her tears. Simon then declared 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 years 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, his mom, Tina Lee, 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.

"As long as Kodi is playing music, recording music, and performing live, he is in his happy place," Tina told GoodHousekeeping.com.

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 during the season 14 premiere.

Looking ahead, Kodi will get a shot at the winning title during the live shows starting on August 13. But even if Kodi doesn't walk away the winner of season 14, Tina is sure that he'll continue to shine through music and will forever be grateful to AGT for the experience of a lifetime.

"When AGT gave Kodi a box filled with his golden confetti, he literally carried that box around with him wherever he went for like three days," Tina explained. "It was, I think, one of the happiest moments in Kodi's life."

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