Matt Mauser isn’t letting tragedy or grief define him. The singer — who lost his wife, Christina Mauser, in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and six others last year — wowed the judges on Tuesday’s new “America’s Got Talent”.
Matt, 51, took the stage during the show, and quietly introduced himself, before revealing to the surprised judges the heartbreaking details of his painful personal life over the past year and half.
“On January 26, 2020, I lost my wife, in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant,” Matt shared with the judges, who were overwhelmed with sympathy.
In a pre-taped package, Matt reflected on his relationship with Christina, and explained how they shared “a dreamy kind of life” together. The pair met in 2004, when Christina saw Matt performing with his band at a dive bar and the pair hit it off.
“She was just this very humble, powerful, beautiful human being,” Matt shared with host Terry Crews ahead of his audition. He also recalled the morning of the tragic accident, recalling, “When she left that day, she kissed me and she said, ‘I love you.’ And that was the last thing my wife ever said to me.”
In the days after the crash, Matt explained that his focus “immediately went to my children,” and he knows his wife “would want me to carry on, and she would want our kids to have happy lives.”
Fighting back tears, Matt added, “I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’m gonna try.”
Matt and Christina’s three children were at the audition to support their dad from the wings of the stage, and cheered their father on as he began his audition, crooning a soulful cover of Phil Collins’ 1984 single, “Against All Odds.”
The hopeful held back his tears during the performance, but got choked up after he finished singing and he was met with a standing ovation from the entire audience and all four judges.
“We felt your emotion,” Howie Mandel shared after the number. “If you’re able to move strangers, and we can feel it in our hearts… there aren’t words to describe it.”
“It was very emotional, very touching,” Sofia Vergara added. “Thank you. Thank you for being here.”
When asked by Simon Cowell what he’d like to get out of being on “AGT”, Matt considered the question for a moment and said, “I’d like to make sure that my children see that, in spite of the grief that we’ve been through this year, that that grief is not going to define who we are as a family. And that my children see that you have to find joy in life and you have to continue.”
“If this can in any way help my children see that you have to chase your dreams, then I’ll take it,” he added.
Moved by his story, his touching performance and inspiring hope for his kids, the judges gave Matt the four yes votes needed to move on to the next round of the competition.
MORE FROM ET: