'America's Got Talent': Simon Cowell Celebrates 11-Year-Old Violinist and Cancer Survivor With Golden Buzzer

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Tyler Butler-Figueroa might be one of the most inspiring America's Got Talent performers in the history of the show.

The 11-year-old violinist took the stage on Tuesday and opened up about how he came to love the instrument, revealing that it all started when he was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 4.

"The doctors treated me with chemotherapy. And when I lost my hair, I was really sad and embarrassed at the same time, to go to school," Tyler said in a pretaped package that included heartbreaking snapshots from his time in the hospital.

"People used to make fun of me and laugh at me because I was different," the young performer recalled. "They would spread rumors to say that my cancer was contagious and they all wanted to stay away from me."

One day, Tyler saw a flier for an after school program that taught violin, and things immediately clicked for him.

"I would just practice in my bedroom, and the more I did it the better I got," he shared. "When I play the violin, it helps me forget about all the bad stuff. I just didn't want to be 'the kid with cancer.' So now I'm 'the kid who plays the violin.'"

When Tyler actually got the chance to show off his talent, the inspiring performer owned the stage with his charm and charisma as he proved his virtuosic talent with a cover of Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger."

The anthemic song, with his key lyric of "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" resonated with the audience and judges, who celebrated the performance with a loud, appreciative standing ovation that brought tears to Tyler's eyes.

Before giving his feedback, Simon asked how Tyler is feeling now, to which the hopeful declared, "I'm feeling really proud of myself," eliciting another standing ovation and bringing his mom to tears.

Tyler also revealed he's been in remission for almost four years, and Simon --  who is the proud father of a 5-year-old son named Eric -- had nothing but praise for his strength and his story.

"You are an extraordinary young man," Simon marveled. "We hear too many stories about people being bullied, but I can tell you one thing, most people are bullied because they are better than the people who bully them."

"I think you have such an amazing talent, such a personality, and I would like to say something on your behalf to the bullies," Simon continued before standing up and slamming the Golden Buzzer.

Tyler couldn't keep from openly crying with joy as he was showered in gold confetti, and was joined by his mom and Simon on stage in a warm embrace. With this, Tyler is moving straight on to the live shows, securing his place in the competition.

America's Got Talentairs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Check out the video below for a look at last week's Golden Buzzer winner.


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