16 YO Battling Cystic Fibrosis Wows Judges During ‘American Idol’ Audition [VIDEO]

Samantha Agate
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Kayden Stephenson was 16 years old when he auditioned for American Idol in season 12. The teen suffers from cystic fibrosis, which he was diagnosed with when he was 18 months old. Check out his moving audition and how it left the judges in awe of his talent.

Kayden Stephenson Shared Emotional Health Journey On ‘American Idol’

After suffering from severe allergy-like symptoms as a child, Kayden’s parents hoped it was something that simple. When he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease that can produce thick sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, they were distraught. At the time of his audition, Kayden had a life expectancy of 35 years old. Cystic fibrosis limits the ability to breathe over time.

Even through all of this, Kayden never takes a day for granted and knew that as soon as he was of age that he wanted to audition for American Idol. For his audition, he sang “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. Randy Jackson said that it just made him want to sing along.

“I love your voice,” judge Nicki Minaj said. “It reminds me of a baby Michael. You are so unique that I just think so many children would be inspired by you to not give up no matter what health problems “


“I’m beyond inspired like let’s go make the record now, let’s go to the studio,” Mariah Carey said. She complimented his swag and he complimented her bling. The judges laughed and said that Kayden definitely has some game. “I think that girls will fall on the floor when you walk into the room” Mariah continued.

He Made It Through To The Next Round Of The Competition

The judges all agreed that Kayden should be sent through to Hollywood. Kayden was put into a group with other young singers during the group round. He forgot the words during the song after the judges had high hopes for him. He asked the judges for a second chance but was eliminated from the competition.

If you were inspired by Kayden’s journey on American Idol, check out the compilation below. It features some of the most moving acts to ever compete on talent competition shows and their incredible stories.

Where Is Kayden Stephenson Now?

After his American Idol journey came to an end in 2013, Kayden continued on to pursue music. On Soundcloud, Kayden released three songs. “Backwards” and “Say Something Freestyle” were both released in 2017. In 2018, he released “LUV.” They are a part of his EP called Seattle Seventeen.


On his 24th birthday, Kayden reflected on living with his girlfriend after modern medicine has changed his life forever. “We moved into our apartment together around this time last year and got our first dog,” he wrote on Instagram. “I haven’t had to go to the hospital once for an entire year. That hasn’t happened since I was a child. A breakthrough medicine came out that completely changed my future.”

“I feel so healthy like I did when I was younger” he continued. “It’s why I’m able to move to Los Angeles and there’s the fire and desire to be something burning inside of my heart once again. Cystic Fibrosis took that dream away from me for a while before the medicine.” In the past, Kayden went to the hospital every three months and was being evaluated for a double lung transplant in 2019.


“I was basically losing my life” Kayden added. “A very scary feeling but now that is no longer a thing. There’s so much more I could say but I just want to thank everyone who has ever been a part of my life and prayed for me. I can now live a normal & healthy life with nothing holding me back. You truly have given me another shot at life and you’re going to see me be something great.”

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