The night Elijah McCormick graduated high school in 2019, he was in a “horrific, fiery automobile accident” just one mile from his house. Now, almost four years later, he told his story during his American Idol audition, which aired Sunday, March 5. His mother had him signed up in 2019 to audition, but of course, his health and recovery took first priority.
He said, “I had to learn to walk again, learn to talk again. I flatlined a couple times in the process of being airlifted. And then I flatlined a couple times on the operating table — a total of nine times. I was in the hospital for 79 days, had about 10 surgeries: open-heart surgeries, dialysis. I’m just thankful to be here, honestly — so thankful for the guardian angels that were around me that day.”
Once he could finally speak, after all the surgeries, McCormick asked his mom, “Mama, can I still sing?”
During the audition, they had McCormick look back at footage of himself in the hospital, which made him understandably emotional. He said, “I would’ve never expected to go through something like that, man. I was not supposed to be here. So, I have to fulfill my purpose.”
Fittingly, McCormick sang Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road,” which is all about finding your purpose and being grateful for what led you there.
Judge Luke Bryan said he had “goosebumps” from his performance,
“I mean, you hit one of those notes and I thought ‘Willie,’ and from then on I couldn’t recover. I was trying to look very dignified, and then it just beat me up some more,” said fellow judge Lionel Richie. “But let me just tell you this: God brought you back nine times for you to do something amazing. I’m so glad you’re here with us. And that was just one of those moments in my life I will never forget.”
The Willie he is referring to is Willie Spence, a Season 19 finalist who died in a car crash on October 11, 2022.
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McCormick then told the judges he was actually supposed to audition before his accident, which shocked Katy Perry.
“You’re just here fulfilling your destiny. This was always meant to be,” she said.
After the audition, the judges asked McCormick to bring in his mom. Richie told her, “God brought him back for a reason. There is a purpose in life. And it starts right on that [Idol] oval. I know you went through absolute torture. But God bless you and your family and that golden child right there.”
McCormick revealed that the hospital staff actually called him “Golden Child,” so the fact the Richie used the same term was incredibly eerie. Of course, he was sent through to the next round!
Watch his full audition below.