"I will buy lots of grand pianos in every color," Kodi Lee tells PEOPLE of what he'll do with the $1 million prize if he wins season 14

By Karen Mizoguchi
September 18, 2019 08:00 PM
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Kodi Lee couldn’t be happier to be a finalist on America’s Got Talent season 14.

Before an act is announced as the winner in Wednesday’s two-part finale, the 22-year-old singer and his mother Tina reflect on the weeks-long competition, telling PEOPLE about what he has gained after captivating audiences with his vocal talents.

America’s Got Talent is amazing. They’ve given Kodi more opportunities than just performing,” Tina says. “They’ve given him opportunities to grow in his speech and grow in his socialization skills. I am very grateful for them.”

Kodi, who was born with optic nerve hypoplasia and diagnosed with autism at age 4, impressed the judges and viewers with his final bow, a rendition of “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings.

Trae Patton/NBC

“I’m extremely proud,” Tina says of her son’s growth on AGT. “This is what helps anyone with issues with communication, it helps to be a part of something like this. When they have a skill like he does and to be accepted into this, it helps him grow.”

Kodi has become an inspiration to many with disabilities. “It’s finding this little thing they love to do and getting them the tools, accepting them and letting them in. It’s what these kids need. They flourish,” Tina explains.

“I’m very thankful for America’s Got Talent. If anything, no matter what happens, that is amazing that he’s given the opportunity to grow,” the proud parent adds.

If he wins the $1 million prize, Kodi says, “I will buy lots of grand pianos in every color.”

But win or lose, his mother knows that he has more to accomplish. “I think he’s just gonna fly after, he’s gonna fly with his talents,” she says of his post-season career path.

“I know in my heart how talented he is, but still he’s my baby. Of course, I think he’s the best,” Tina shares.

Judge Gabrielle Union, who gave Kodi her Golden Buzzer during the audition rounds, also believes that he’s a rising star.

“Every time he hits the stage he wins. Every time he hits the stage, the world wins,” she says. “I had to keep catching myself when I said he’s a once in a lifetime talent because the reality is people don’t look for world-changing talent in vessels that look like Kodi.”

The L.A.’s Finest actress adds, “That’s part of the problem. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we don’t really mean that. The Kodi Lees of the world remind us that we have to look for talent everywhere because we’re leaving a lot on the table. Kodi snatched everybody’s things and showed just how amazing and talented and world-changing artists can be if they’re given a chance and a platform.”

The America’s Got Talent finale airs Wednesday (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.