Matt Mauser, the widower of Christina Mauser, a basketball coach who died in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and six other people, gave a memorable and moving audition on Tuesday night’s episode of “America’s Got Talent.”
“Before Jan. 26, me and Christina lived this dreamy kind of life,” he said in a pre-taped interview in which he also explained how they met in 2004 after she saw him perform in a bar. They would be married for 15 years and have three kids before her death.
“She was just this very humble, powerful, beautiful human being,” he said.
“When she left that day, she kissed me and she said, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing my wife ever said to me,” he said, recalling the accident.
He said that after her death, his focus went on their children.
“You start to say, ‘Alright. She would want me to carry on. She would want our kids to have happy lives,’” he said.
“If I had it my way, I would have my wife and I’d be supporting her, but that’s not what happened. It’s been a rough year, but here I am,” he said while on stage as he prepared to sing "Against All Odds (Take a Look at me Now)" by Phil Collins, wrapping up his performance by wiping his eyes and earning a standing ovation.
“We felt your emotion,” Howie Mandel said.
“There aren’t words to describe it,” he added.
“It was beautiful. It was sad and as a man, as a strong man standing there, I don’t know. It was very special,” Heidi Klum said.
“It was very emotional, very touching. Thank you. Thank you for being here,” Sofia Vergara said.
Simon Cowell asked about his goals if he did well on the show.
“That's a good question. I haven't gotten that far," Mauser said.
"I would 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 chase their dreams, then I'll take it."
The judges all gave him a “yes” to advance him to the next round, prompting his kids to come onto the stage for a hug.
“You guys have the best example of courage I have ever seen,” host Terry Crews said to Mauser and his kids backstage.
“When I was out there tonight, I was singing to her and I wanted to make her proud, so I think I did that,” he said. “I felt her in my heart, which was nice.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: