An America’s Got Talent contestant has paid a moving tribute to his wife, a year after she died in the same helicopter crash as Kobe Bryant.
Matt Mauser’s performance aired on Tuesday’s episode of the talent show.
Mauser’s wife Christina Mauser died on 26 January 2020 in the Calabasas helicopter crash that left nine people dead, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Christina Mauser was a basketball coach at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy. She and Matt Mauser both used to be schoolteachers, as he explained on America’s Got Talent, but had retired from teaching to enable him to pursue music full-time.
Mauser is the lead singer of the party/rock band Tijuana Dogs and has also performed in a Frank Sinatra tribute band.
“On 26 January 2020, I lost my wife in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant,” Mauser explained in his introduction on America’s Got Talent.
“Wow. I’m so sorry,” Simon Cowell said in response.
Mauser described his wife as his greatest supporter, and a “powerful, beautiful human being”. The pair were married for 15 years and had three children together.
As part of his audition, Mauser sang “Against All Odds (Take a Look at me Now)”, Phil Collins’s 1984 power ballad. His performance earned him a standing ovation from the audience as well as judges Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara, and Heidi Klum.
“We felt your emotion and regardless of what anybody does on that stage, if you’re able to move strangers ... there aren’t words to describe it,” Mandel said.
“It was very emotional, very touching,” Vergara told Mauser. “Thank you. Thank you for being here.”
Mauser advanced to the next stage of the competition with the support of all four judges.