What We Know About Kodi Lee's Near Death Experience

In 2019, the world was introduced to the incredible talents of Kodi Lee thanks to "America's Got Talent." Per Good Housekeeping, Lee took home the title and the prize money at 22 years old after beating runners-up the Detroit Youth Choir and stand-up comedian Ryan Niemiller. Since winning the show, Lee has continued with his passion in music, regularly posting his singing and performances to his nearly 400,000 followers on Instagram.

Lee captured the nation's hearts throughout his time on the show, especially when it came to his first audition. As his mom explained on stage (via YouTube), Lee is blind and autistic, but they discovered he had a love for music very early on. "His eyes just went huge," she said, describing when they played music to him for the first time. "And that's when I was in tears, because I realized 'Oh my gosh, he's an entertainer.'"

She continued, "Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you're autistic it's really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life playing music."

Kodi Lee was diagnosed with a rare medical condition

According to TV Over MindKodi Lee was diagnosed with a congenital disorder when he was born, known as optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH). As the National Organization for Rare Disorders writes, this condition is "characterized by underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the optic nerves ... Vision can range from no light perception to good functional vision, or even full vision in one eye."

Those with ONH can also have "brain malformations and pituitary problems," including in the corpus callousum which is the nerve fibers that connect the two hemispheres of the brain, underdeveloped nerve fibres, and cortical heteroptera which is an "abnormal migration of neurons to the surface of the brain."

For Lee, this condition almost resulted in his death when he was just five days old. Thankfully he survived, but the disorder resulted in Lee becoming legally blind, per Mashable SE Asia. Five years later, Lee was also diagnosed with autism. These conditions have also affected the way his brain processes his emotions, meaning that "he may spontaneously laugh, but he does not have the ability to let someone know if he is in danger or hurting," TV Over Mind reported.