Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie are breaking their silence on “American Idol”‘s controversial contestant Caleb Kennedy’s exit from the competition.
Kennedy departed the long-running series after an offensive video surfaced online of the South Carolina native hanging out with a friend wearing a white hood similar to the ones worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
“First and foremost, as judges, we love these kids,” Bryan, 44, told People magazine. “We get emotionally involved in these kids. We want the best for Caleb. As far as the nuances on how ABC gets viewed, either way, decisions got made and it’s our job as judges to show up and do our best job and comment on the kids who are in front of us. But we wish nothing but the best for Caleb. It does make for a very, very challenging and upsetting week.”
Richie, 71, added, “A lot of times, we think about it, we grow up and we make mistakes and we look at our life behind us many times and we say, ‘God, what was I thinking about when I did that?’ This was one of those situations where we kind of give him a big hug from the three of us.”
“He has definitely has a talent,” Richie continued. “The problem is, this is one of those unfortunate decisions that had to be made and we move on. But this will be remembered in his lifetime and he’ll know what it’s all about.”
In a statement, Kennedy addressed the video, saying that it “displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way.”
“I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse,” he said. “I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I let down.”