AGT Violinist, Cancer Survivor Gets Golden Buzzer from Simon Cowell

  • Tyler Butler-Figueroa, an 11-year-old violinist and cancer survivor, earned the Golden Buzzer from Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent Tuesday.
  • Butler-Figueroa, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, picked up the violin to cope with the bullying he experienced while going through chemotherapy.
  • Butler-Figueroa will advance right to the live shows, which air July 6 on NBC.

    America’s Got Talent aired its third round of auditions last night, and one special performer earned a well-deserved Golden Buzzer from judge Simon Cowell.

    At just 11 years old, violinist and cancer survivor Tyler Butler-Figueroa blew the entire crowd away with his rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. The musician, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, picked up the violin to cope with the bullying he experienced for losing his hair to chemotherapy.

    “I was really sad and embarrassed,” Butler-Figueroa told the judges. “They used to make fun of me and laugh at me because I was different. They would spread rumors to say that my cancer was contagious and they all wanted to stay away from me.”

    But when Butler-Figueroa began violin lessons at age 7, everything changed. “When I play the violin, it helps me forget about all the bad stuff,” he said. “I just didn’t want to be the kid with cancer. So now I’m the kid who plays the violin.” Cue the tears.

    Cowell, who is notoriously difficult to impress, sent a message to Butler-Figueroa’s bullies after his energetic performance. “You are an extraordinary young man,” Cowell said. “I think you have such an amazing talent, such a personality, and I would like to say something on your behalf to the bullies.” Then, he pressed the Golden Buzzer, which sends him right to live auditions.

    Gold confetti fell everywhere as the crowd roared. Butler-Figueroa and his mother were both in tears. “I’m feeling very proud of myself and I feel very happy,” he said.

    “I have been in remission for almost four years,” he said to the crowd, who gave him a standing ovation.

    YouTube/America’s Got Talent

    Both Gabrielle Union and Howie Mandel have chosen their Golden Buzzer performances on the season so far. Union gave her Golden Buzzer to Kodi Lee, a blind singer with autism, while Mandel chose Jospeh Allen, a singer he called “electric.”

    The live shows will air July 6 on NBC.

    Stay updated on the latest science-backed health, fitness, and nutrition news by signing up for the newsletter here. For added fun, follow us on Instagram.

    Nicol Natale
    Assistant Editor
    Currently an assistant editor at, Nicol is a Manhattan-based journalist who specializes in health, wellness, beauty, fashion, business, and lifestyle.