By Andrea Morris
An emotional audition on ABC’s American Idol brought people to tears when one contestant asked the judges to pray with her.
The network released a nine-minute-long story on Samantha Diaz, showing the hardships endured by the young performer.
The 20-year-old aspiring singer, who goes by “Just Sam”, was raised by her grandmother in Harlem, New York and started singing in subways when she was kid.
“My grandmother had to adopt my sister and I. My mother wasn’t there for me, growing up…neither was my father. My grandmother made sure we were fed, had a roof over our heads and had clothes on our backs,” Diaz explained.
She said her grandmother, Elizabeth, never gave up on her and always believed in her talent.
“I just want to give her back everything that she gave me,” Diaz added.
During her audition, Diaz was overcome with emotion and unable to perform until judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan hugged her and offered some encouraging words.
On her third attempt, Diaz belted out Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” After her performance, Richie asked Diaz if she has ever felt safe.
“I feel safe when my grandma hugs me. I’m not used to people caring without needing something or just pretending to care,” she replied.
Richie then reassured the young singer that she would be safe while the judges coach her throughout the process.
“We’ve got you and I want you to rely on us to coach you through this. I’m so grateful that God put you in front of us,” Richie said.
Diaz tearfully thanked the judges for their patience and asked if they would pray with her.
“Can I pray with you guys, is that okay?” While holding hands, the group repeated, “Heavenly Father, Lord make my life brand new right here, right now, with my friends and my new fam, Amen.”
“Thank you, Jesus,” Diaz said.
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest expressed his support for Diaz in a series of tweets.
“Just Sam” is going to be more than just Sam. Calling it now #AmericanIdol.”
“Always need a box of tissues nearby when watching auditions like Just Sam’s. Admire her heart and strength so much #AmericanIdol.”
While gazing at her golden ticket to Hollywood, Diaz admitted that the whole experience felt like a dream.
“I still feel like I’m dreaming…this isn’t a dream!” she exclaimed.
Regardless of how the competition ends, Diaz said her life will never be the same and she made her grandmother proud.
On her Instagram page she wrote, “I know that at this point in my life, I’ve already made my grandmother proud. Her seeing me on TV was my dream and it finally came true after all these years. I wish that I had the words to say right now, but I just don’t. I’m currently filled with so much gratitude, joy and so much peace.”