John 9:1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
This is an interesting piece of scripture because as people we often believe that if you have a disability, then probably God is not happy with you or with your parents and the disability is some of punishment. However, I have seen great beauty and talent come of people with disabilities. I have witnessed special talents developed in those who have not given up on themselves because of their disabilities of adverse conditions.
As if one condition was not enough, 22 year old Kodi Lee was born with two challenging conditions of blindness and autism but none of that could stop the 2019 America’s Got Talent winner from reaching the echelons of his talent in music.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.
Children with autism have trouble communicating. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.
Though autistic, Kodi Lee has an amazing gift of musical expression. Though he struggles to talk normally, when he sings, the speech struggles suddenly disappear and he has a perfect pitch and an amazing passion for all types of music. He has a musical photographic memory which allows him to recall music photographically even after one listen.
Though blind, he has an excellent mastery of the piano, and plays the piano with the grandest excellence. He was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia and entered the world as a fighter, surviving a life saving surgery at just 5 days old.
His mother is his greatest supporter and cheerleader and she has an amazing relationship with her son, helping him all the way in developing his talent and navigating his life with his unique combination of challenging conditions of autism and blindness.
Kodi Lee’s story, inspiration, determination and fervent attitude have been featured in key publications such as the Orange County register, the LA Times and many broadcast television stations. He also uses his gift to bring awareness to autism and inspire other autistic people in the world.
In 2019, Kodi Lee entered America’s Got Talent, and earned a golden buzzer in his first audition from judge Gabrielle Union to send him straight to the quarter final live shows. Watch his epic performance here:
He continued to impresses both the judges, live audiences and viewers throughout the tough competition and rising above all the other acts went on to win America’s Got Talent 2019, earning himself a record deal and a million dollars in prize money.
Kodi has been singing and playing the piano for many years and his disability challenges have not been able to stop his drive and tenacity. He has travelled across the globe and performed in different countries at different types of events. His style ranges from jazz to R & B and pop. He is also an excellent player of the classics doing Bach, Chopin, Mozart and more.
He is surely an example that disability is not inability and that you must not focus on what you don’t have in life, but rather what you have in hand.
About The Author
Desmond Mapfumo is a Mindset Coach, Startup Builder and Consultant. He is a Strategy, Systems and Maximization Expert. He is the Founder and Contributing Editor For Inspiration Media Publications. Inspiration Media is member of the Rebirth Group, which he also founded and leads as the Executive Chairman and CEO. Desmond is a writer, speaker, teacher, mentor and trainer.