Georgia Man With Autism Conquers Fears, Wows American Idol Judges With Emotional Audition
A man from Peachtree Corners, Georgia, went from performing in his basement to earning a standing ovation from all three judges on Sunday's episode of American Idol.
Sam Finelli, who is on the autism spectrum, pushed his nerves aside to audition for the ABC show's fifth season, and inspired the country in the process.
"I don't connect with people very well. It's just a small part of who I am, it's not all of who I am," he said of his high-functioning diagnosis. "So, it was lonely growing up, but music was my best friend."
"I wanted to give it a shot, so here I am," Sam added.
His mom Suzie watched from backstage as the 28-year-old bakery worker wowed the judges with a heartfelt performance of "Rainbow" by Kacey Musgraves.
"I want you to know right now that we are so proud of you," judge Lionel Richie said as Sam wiped "happy tears" from his face.
"Sam, you were born enough," the Grammy-winner continued." And what we consider your handicap is your gift. You understand me? You are enough."
WATCH: Meet Noah Myers, the Autistic Tennessee Teen Who Hiked 100 Miles in the Great Smoky Mountains
Then, the judges invited Suzie into the room so she could also hear their judgement. With three "yes" votes, Sam was headed to Hollywood.
"You ready to be the next Kelly Clarkson?" judge Katy Perry asked, to which Sam responded, "I'm going to sure as hell try!"
Congratulations, Sam! We can't wait to watch you take on Hollywood.