In a tense moment Thursday evening on live television, James Durbin was
placed on stage in front of millions of viewers, pitted against his Hollywood roommate,
Stefano Langone, for a spot in American Idol’s "Top 13." Host Ryan
Seacrest eventually delivered the news to Durbin, that he earned a position in
the elite group that will move on to compete next week.
The decision by viewers, who cast over 40 million votes, has placed Durbin in an excellent position to vie for the coveted crown to be the next American Idol. However, it was bittersweet for Durbin, who was clearly elated about his advancement, but saddened for his good friend, Stefano, who was sent back to the elimination stools. Although visibly nervous on stage, there was little doubt about Durbin’s moving on, even before his name was called.
James Durbin has become a fan favorite, particularly among those in the autism and special needs communities. At an early age, Durbin was diagnosed with a comorbid condition that includes both Tourette’s and Asperger’s Syndromes. In addition to Durbin’s challenges, he lost his father at the age of nine due to a drug overdose. He is also currently unemployed, with a young child at home and even noted that before his appearance on ‘Idol,’ it was often difficult to purchase diapers for his youngster.
By the end of the show, Durbin learned that his good friend, Stefano, earned a spot as a "wild card" contestant.
As Ryan Seacrest and the other judges noted, it was one of the most difficult nights in the history of American Idol. And indeed, there were some contestants who were sent home tonight that could have won the entire competition in previous years. Because of this fact, Durbin’s accomplishments are all-the-more-significant.
James has also become an emblem of hope for parents of children with high-functioning autism and other special needs, proving that despite physical or emotional challenges that exist in one’s life, they can be overcome.