Freddie Combs, a minister who appeared on the second season of The X-Factor, has passed away at age 49.
According to a Cocoa, Florida funeral home, Combs died on September 10 surrounded by his friends and family. His wife, Kay, who appeared alongside Combs on the TLC show Ton of Love in 2010, told TMZ that his death was a result of kidney failure following a slate of health issues.
Combs featured on the singing competition show in 2012, becoming an instant fan-favorite with his rendition of Bette Midler’s 1988 song “Wind Beneath My Wings.” His performance impressed the celebrity judges, including Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears, and Demi Lovato, with Cowell and Reid promising they’d support him if he got healthier.
The Tennessee native was escorted to the stage in a wheelchair by his wife when he appeared on the show. During his audition, he opened up about his battle with weight loss, explaining how, in 2009, he weighed 920 pounds and almost died. He had lost almost 400 pounds by the time he appeared on The X-Factor through exercise and diet.
“My wife Kay, she’s an incredible woman,” he said on the show. “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.”
“When I was bedridden and never came out of the house, my music was never heard,” he continued. “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.”
Speaking to TMZ, Kay said that she knew the day before that she was going to lose her husband. “I have so much gratitude to be his wife for 25 years,” she said, “and to be his best friend.”