11-year-old North Carolina cancer survivor receives Golden Buzzer on ‘America’s Got Talent’

Posted at 12:49 PM, Jun 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-12 12:49:18-04

An 11-year-old cancer survivor fell to his knees and cried when he was awarded the Golden Buzzer on Tuesday night’s “America’s Got Talent.”

Tyler Butler-Figueroa performed Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” on the violin.

“I started playing the violin when I was 7 and a half,” Butler-Figueroa told the judges before his performance. “I wanted to play the violin because I was being bullied at school.”

The North Carolina native said he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 4 and a half.

“One day we were out to dinner,” his mother said. “I said ‘Something doesn’t look right with Tyler.’”

She said her son was pale.

“A mother’s instinct said let me get him to the emergency room,” she said.

Doctors did some blood work and told Tyler’s mother that her son had leukemia.

“It was the worst day of my life,” she said.

Tyler began chemotherapy and lost his hair.

“When I lost my hair I was really sad and embarrassed at the same time to go to school,” Tyler said.

Tyler said other kids at school laughed at him and made fun of him. He said some of the kids even started rumors that his cancer was “contagious.”

“They all wanted to stay away from me,” he said.

Tyler’s sadness changed when he saw a flyer at school for violin lessons. He signed up for the class and practiced as much as he could.

“Once he started that class, it was like sunshine,” his mother said. “He was just full of energy, and he was happy. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I got my son back’.”

“When I play the violin it helps me forget about all the bad stuff,” Tyler said.

After his performance, Tyler said, “I’m feeling really proud of myself.”

He also said he’s been in remission for almost four years.

That’s when judge Simon Cowell hit the Golden Buzzer, guaranteeing Tyler a spot in the live shows.