Simon Cowell picks incredible 11-year-old cancer survivor violinist as his AGT Golden Buzzer

13 June 2019, 10:55

By Tom Eames

Young violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa amazed everyone on America’s Got Talent this week, impressing the judges with his solo performance.

The 11-year-old played a special version of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ on the talent show, winning judge Simon Cowell’s coveted Golden Buzzer.

The America’s Got Talent judge pushed the button for Tyler from North Carolina, who said he was bullied by classmates after being diagnosed with leukaemia aged just four and a half.

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“I started playing the violin when I was seven and a half,” said Tyler. “I wanted to start playing the violin because I was being bullied in school. 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 said.

Tyler won Simon Cowell's Golden Buzzer
Tyler won Simon Cowell's Golden Buzzer. Picture: NBC

His mother, Kisua, continued: “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 has been in remission for four years, and received a standing ovation from the audience and the four judges: Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Howie Mandel.

“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 said.

“I think you have such an amazing talent, such a personality. And I would like to say something on your behalf to the bullies,” Cowell added, before pressing the Golden Buzzer for him.