Dennis Lorenzo is opening up about his heartbreaking past.
On Sunday’s episode of American Idol, the Top 24 contestant told radio personality Bobby Bones about the moment his life changed — and how he turned a painful situation into motivation to succeed.
“I’m constantly going in my head, ‘Dude, you’re at American Idol right now, do you even understand?'” he tells the Nashville-based host in PEOPLE’s exclusive preview above. “I can’t really fathom what’s happening.”
“When I was 5, my dad was murdered,” Lorenzo adds. “He was murdered on the streets of Philly. It was pretty tough because I didn’t really know how to deal with it, you know?”
To Lorenzo’s surprise, Bones faced similar challenges in his childhood.
“I grew up in a really small town in Arkansas,” he says. “I was a food stamp kid and my dad left when I was 5 and my mom died from drugs and alcohol abuse. I think the things that we go through, we look at them and we go, ‘Why me?’ — but as we get older, I think we’re a lot smarter and a lot tougher from it.”
“It really doesn’t matter where you come from,” adds Bones. “Zip codes don’t define us, circumstances don’t define us — and you’re an example of that.”
After a dramatic Hollywood Week, the pool has been narrowed to the top 24 contestants, and in Sunday’s episode, 12 artists will perform duets with some pretty spectacular celebrity partners.
The pairs include June and Ada Vox with Lea Michele; Amelia Hammer and Caleb Lee Hutchinson with Bebe Rexha; Garrett Jacobs and Maddie Poppe with Colbie Caillat; Mara Justine with Rachel Platten; Marcio Donaldson with Allen Stone; Ron Bultongez and Alyssa Raghu with Banners; and Shannon O’Hara and Effie Passero with Cam.
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.