When David Francisco walked out to stand before the judges on Monday's American Idol, the young singer's determination and optimism won their hearts long before he ever sang a single note.
The 25-year-old Idol hopeful, who walked with the help of two brace-crutches, explained that he moved to Nashville in 2016 in an effort to pursue his dream of becoming a musician, but his efforts were sidelined when he was hit by a car and wound up paralyzed from the waist down.
"Just three weeks after I moved to Nashville, a distracted driver ran a red light and T-boned me on my bicycle," Francisco shared in a pre-taped solo interview. "I don't remember anything before waking up in the hospital and asking, 'Why aren't my legs on the bed?' I look down and sure enough, there's my legs on the bed, but I can't feel them."
He recalled feeling that everything in his life was done for after doctors told him he was going to be paralyzed.
"I thought, 'Everything's over. Music is over, relationships are over,'" Francisco recalled. "I cried every single day for months."
However, months after the accident, he was lying in bed when he saw his foot move "just a little."
Over the subsequent months, he began to see a lot of improvement as he dedicated himself to his physical therapy. Francisco said the process of healing is still continuing to this day.
"I don't take anything for granted anymore," he shared.
And it wasn't just his physical condition that began to heal, but his heart as well, after he received a letter from an old friend named Christie, who came back into his life after hearing about his situation.
"We ended up reconnecting through the accident," Francisco reflected. "I was amazed how she didn't seem to be fazed by the fact that I was in a wheelchair."
"He is the most joyous, the most energetic, the bright light of the room," Christie shared, getting emotional. "Life is so much fun with him… I am so happy to stand by his side."
With his fiancée at his side, Francisco decided that the next step in getting his life back on track would be to give his music dreams another shot by trying out for American Idol.
As judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan cheered the musician on as he took up his guitar and performed an emotional cover of Stevie Wonder's 1976 classic "Isn't She Lovely" as his lady love stood to the side, watching her fiancé sing.
The heartfelt performance of the iconic tune had an immediate effect on Perry, who had to fight back tears as Francisco sang.
Before he even got to the final verse, Richie waved his hands and told the singer to stop, because he'd already proven his talent. The GRAMMY winner got up from the judge's table and walked over to Francisco to give him a hug.
"You are an inspiration to us all," Richie shared.
A tearful Perry, who had lost her voice by the time Francisco auditioned, couldn't hold back emotion as she explained that she spent most of the performance watching his fiancée and seeing "how in love she is."
"The blessing of life is your spirit," Richie shared. "If you lose your spirit, you've lost everything. You are inspirational… I want you to be very proud of yourself."
The trio of judges then made it official by handing Francisco his golden ticket and letting him know he's going to Hollywood for the big show.
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