Matt Mauser, widower of a woman who died in the helicopter crash that also killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and six others, gave an emotional performance on "America's Got Talent" on Tuesday night.
Mauser, 51, took the stage to audition while his three children waited anxiously in the wings for his performance to begin. As he introduced himself, he explained that he was inspired by his wife, Christina Mauser, to be there after losing her in the tragic January 26, 2020 crash.
"Before January 26, me and Christina lived this dreamy kind of life. We met in 2004. She came and saw me play at this dive bar and I asked her out and we sat in my car and we talked about music," Mauser said in a pre-taped interview with the show.
Actor and show host Terry Crews asked Mauser if his wife was his biggest supporter, to which he responded, "absolutely." The two were married for 15 years before her death. Mauser described their marriage as "filled with love."
"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," Mauser said in an emotional interview with "AGT."
Mauser explained that after his wife's sudden death, his focus immediately turned to their children. He said he knows she would have wanted him to carry on and for their children to have a happy life.
Mauser delivered a powerful and heartbreaking musical performance of "Against All Odds (Take a Look at me Now)" by Phil Collins.
"Take a look at me now, 'cause there's just this empty space. There's nothing left here to remind me. Just the memory of your face..." Mauser sang in the emotional ballad.
When he finished, a teary-eyed Mauser received a standing ovation from the crowd and the judges.
"We felt your emotion, and regardless of what anyone does on that stage, if you're able to move strangers ... and we can feel it in our hearts, and I'm not only speaking of everyone at this table but everyone at home who heard that, there aren't words to describe it," said "AGT" judge Howie Mandel.
"It was emotional. It was very touching. Thank you, thank you for being here," actress and judge Sofia Vergara added.
Judge Simon Cowell asked Mauser what he would like to happen if he did win this show, to which he replied, "I would like to make sure that my children see that in spite of the grief we've been through this year, 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 that you have to continue. If this can in any way help my children to chase their dreams, then I'll take it."
"On behalf of your wife and everybody in America, I'd like to give you your first yes," Mandel said in response.
Mauser ultimately received four "yes" votes from the judges, securing him a spot in the next round of competition.
"When I was out there tonight, I was singing to her and I wanted to make her proud, so I think I did that," Mauser said.