Knoxville musician overcomes major obstacles to compete on American Idol

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - American Idol is back, this time on ABC and it debuts Sunday night. A young singer from Knoxville hopes to share his talent with the world, and he almost didn't live to experience this moment.

David Francisco, 25, is a University of Tennessee graduate who recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. He couldn't share, though, many details about his experience.

"What I can tell you is that I auditioned for American Idol and I don't remember how it went," he said. "But it's such a fun process - getting to meet the judges, getting to have my wife there with me. It was really, really special."

Francisco said he felt like he did his best and the country will see that on Monday's show.

"It'll be fun to see and I think they're going to tell my story too which is really cool," Francisco said.

America will learn about Francisco's recent call with death.

"Two years ago I moved to Nashville to pursue a recording and engineering career as a music producer and I went to this school called the Blackbird Academy. I was biking home one day. I got to the last intersection and I was beside a car, light turned green for us so we both started pulling out and long story short, the car beside me slammed on their brakes because there was a car that was not stopping for the red light," he explained. 

Francisco said he was T-boned, which sent his body flying about 50 feet. His arm smashed into the windshield. His back was broken.

He had surgery followed by grueling physical therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

"Actually the doctors told me when I kind of woke up and realized what had happened, that I would never walk again they said it was a complete injury, which means your spinal cord is damaged totally beyond repair," said Francisco. "Even after surgery the next day, they said best case you may get something you could walk with metal braces around your legs, which is totally unusable for the real world so in my mind, I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life."

Francisco was at the Shepherd Center for a total of eight months. Halfway through his stay, things started to turn around.

"About four, five months in is when I took my first steps, with a harness, with a walker, basically totally levitated but my feet you know, I was kind of going through the motion," he said. "You have to go through those small steps to accomplish what you want."

Then, what seemed like a miracle happened.

"One night I was on the phone with my friend and we're just talking and all of a sudden I'm like, am I moving my foot? Hey man, I think I'm moving my foot. And I started freaking out a little and getting excited, but also it's such a small movement, I don't even know if it's moving," he said.

Incredibly, Francisco is now walking on his own.

"I do have a cane and if it's a long walk I generally will use forearm crutches still because I don't want to damage my knees any more than I probably already am," he said.

Even more good things are happening for Francisco. He got married just two weeks ago.

Francisco said he credits his accidents with leading him to his new wife.

"So it's just crazy the way God works through something that you would think would just ruin your life - I thought that it was over, you know? But through the accident I met my wife, and American Idol is another thing that's happened since the accident, and having the story to share has been a huge part of the auditioning process and everything and just even the physical recovery I've had - beyond anything I could've hoped or dreamed for," he said.

His new wife is named Kristy and she's originally from California. Francisco said he wouldn't have reconnected with her if not for the accident.

"Because I wouldn't have come out to LA for an awards show in August of 2016 when I kind of reconnected with her," he said.

Their first date was also their first dance. Francisco was in a wheelchair, but Kristy didn't miss a beat. Then came more time together, and these two soon knew they were meant to be.

Francisco popped the question and the two were married February 1.

Part of Kristy's vows: “Here you are, my Prince Charming, and so much more.”

During Monday night's broadcast, Francisco sang "Isn't She Lovely," as his wife looked on. Judge Katy Perry was moved to tears and the performance earned him a Golden Ticket to the Hollywood round.

Stay tuned to find out if David Francisco becomes the next American Idol!

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