Watch: ‘American Idol’ Contestant Elijah McCormick Brings Lionel Richie to Tears

American Idol contestants often have interesting journeys that have led them to audition for the famed competition show, but 21-year-old Elijah McCormick might take the cake.

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The audition rounds of season 21 continued Sunday night (March 5) with judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. McCormick was among the hopefuls and he started off his time by explaining his many near-death experiences.

He first had to miss 2019 American Idol tryouts after a serious car accident forced him to relearn how to walk and talk. McCormick said he flatlined nine times after the crash, which occurred hours after his graduation ceremony in Raeford, North Carolina. His mother signed him up to audition for Idol prior to the crash.

“The last thing I remember is dropping my friend off at her house, and I was only a mile away from home,” McCormick told the judges, revealing he spent almost 80 days in the hospital and underwent 10 procedures, including open heart surgery.

His mother added: “His first question to me (after the accident) was, ‘Momma, can I still sing?'”

The answer to that question is a resounding yes, judging by his emotional rendition of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” on Idol.

McCormick’s rich vocals added another layer of soul to the 2004 hit that brought Richie to tears. Bryan and Richie said his performance reminded them of another Idol contestant, Willie Spence, who died in a car crash last year.

“The last person that I saw approach singing like you was Willie Spence,” Bryan said.

Richie added: “That’s what got me. You hit one of those notes, and I thought of Willie, and from then on I couldn’t recover.”

“God brought you back nine times for you to do something amazing,” Richie continued. “I’m so glad you’re here with us, and that was just one of the moments in my life I will never forget.”

Watch McCormick’s audition below.

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

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