Freddie Combs — a minister and season 2 contestant on The X Factor USA — died last week, according to a Cocoa, Fla., funeral home. He was 49 at the time of his death on Sept. 10.
The minister made his debut on the show in 2012 while judges Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid held auditions at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. Combs sang Bette Midler’s 1988 song “Wind Beneath My Wings” from a wheelchair. His performance of the track earned him four yeses from the panel.
Ahead of his audition, Combs told his backstory and revealed that he nearly died in 2009. He also explained his weight-loss journey, which saw him lose 400 pounds. “My wife Kay, she’s an incredible woman. She started caring for me right after we were married in ’96, and as my weight rose, more things were required of her. She’s the closest thing to an angel and a saint that I know,” Combs said.
“When I was bedridden and never came out of the house, my music was never heard,” he said. “My biggest dream would be to give hope to people who are my size so they can achieve their dreams. And I know people might think I would never have a chance, and maybe I don’t, but I hope the judges will look past my exterior and give a fat boy a chance.”
After Combs’ performance, both Cowell and Reid told him they would continue to support him along his weight-loss journey, with Cowell challenging him to stand up the next time he performed on the show.
TMZ reports that Combs died of kidney failure.
Revisit Combs’ performance on The X Factor below.