Over a year ago life changed for Matt Mauser and his children when his wife died in a horrific helicopter crash that made international headlines. The crash was big news because basketball star, Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna was in the same helicopter and both died. Since then, Mauser has guided his family through their grief and just now returned to the stage as a contestant in the reality television competition, America’s Got Talent.

When Matt Mauser stepped on stage to compete he was unknown to the judges and crowd present. But, as soon as Mauser shared his personal story, that he was a singer before meeting and marrying his life, had put his career on hold to support her and their children, and then lived through the tragedy and loss, everyone in the theater immediately recognized his story. Mauser shared that song, his children, and the knowledge that his wife would want him to carry on living a happy and fulfilling life were what got him through each day. Additionally, his children pushed him to attend the show and audition for a spot in the finale, given his talent for singing. Before he even began, Mauser had both the crowd and the judges on his side. Even so, Matt Mauser decided to sing a touching song, Against All Odds by Phil Collins. Matt gave the song a personal touch, had a presence on stage and has the gift of singing, which made him a hit with both judges and crowds. Mauser was barely able to complete the song, overcome by emotion, given the lyrics were extremely personal to the situation that he has been through.

The judges and crowd all erupted in cheers at the end of his song, and Mauser could barely remain composed. All three children attended the audition with Mauser and immediately joined him on stage to celebrate his being able to get through the audition and for doing as well as he did. All four judges described feeling extreme emotion during his presentation and complimented Mauser’s voice and ability to share both his story and his talent. Mauser received yes votes from all four judges and made it through to the next round of the competition. While he will have to continue on singing and performing on stage, Matt has a very good chance of succeeding given both his talent and the attention being paid to his family and their story. Winning the competition doesn’t just come with considerable prize money, but the chance to perform as part of an act. Simon Cowell questioned Mauser if he was ready for the possibility of winning, and Matt said that while he is not certain what the future holds, he is doing what he thinks his wife would want him to be doing to help himself and his children get through.