Tyler Butler-Figueroa is just 11 years old, but he’s been through more in his 11 years of life than most people.
As the fifth-grader explained on “America’s Got Talent,” at 4-and-a-half years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia, cancer in the blood. Sadly as a result of his battle, his peers at school began to bully him when he started losing his hair due to the chemo treatments.
View this post on Instagram
This is a picture of me in #CharlotteNC this past Dec. for the Open Call #AGTAuditions #AGT, standing in front of AGT's buzzer backdrop. Like and Follow me here on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter! Stay tuned, you might just see ME on AGT this summer when the show airs in May on #NBC! ❤️??? #TylerButlerFigueroaViolinist #LeukemiaAwareness #Violin #RaleighNC #AmericasGotTalent
“When I lost my hair I was really sad and embarrassed at the same time to go to school. They used to make fun of me and laugh at me because I was different. They would spread rumors to say that my cancer contagious and they all wanted to stay away from me.”
It was during that rough time in his life that Butler-Figueroa was introduced to the violin thanks to an after-school program that offered free lessons.
The 11-year-old’s mom said it was the violin that gave her back her son:
“Once he started that class, it was like a sunshine. He was just full of energy, happy. I was like, “Oh my God, I got my son back.”
The violin helped Butler-Figueroa “forget about all the bad stuff” and the sunshine his mom was talking about was evident on the stage as he performed for the AGT judges.
Watch his performance below:
The boy said after his performance:
“I’m feeling really proud of myself.”
And all of the judges were in awe of his talent, including Simon Cowell, who offered this piece of advice to Butler-Figueroa and others who are dealing with bullies as well:
“You are an extraordinary young man. We hear too many stories about people being bullied, but I can tell you one thing, most people are bullied because they’re better than the people who bully them.”
Cowell added that he would like to say something to Butler-Figueroa’s bullies as he smashed the Golden Buzzer, sending the 11-year-old straight to the final round.