Elliot Yamin Biography

Claim to Fame: Pop/R&B singer, American Idol top 3 finalist
DOB: July 20, 1978
Diabetes Type: Type 1

Quote: "Dream big. Always dream big. And continue to watch your blood sugars. It's hard for young people to see how diabetes affects us long-term. Understand that it's controllable. We can live long and healthy lives."

Elliott Yamin was born as Efraym Elliott Yamin in Los Angeles. His father Shaul worked as a painter, while his mother Claudette sang professionally. He also has a younger brother named Scott.

Growing up, health difficulties hindered Elliott from enjoying life as a normal child. He faced incessant allergies and severe ear pain. At age 5, Elliott realized he had a passion for singing. His ailments, however, caused him to shy away from the public spotlight, leading him to hide his musical talent. Years later, his gift for singing would reemerge in a big way.

At age 11, Elliott moved with his family to Richmond, Virgina. Misfortune plagued his teenage years. At 13, his ear pain reached a peak, causing his right ear to burst. As a result, Elliott became 90% deaf in that ear. The next year, his parents divorced. At age 16, Elliott began feeling unusually ill. After 2-and-a-half weeks without getting better, Elliott's mother, who has type 2 diabetes, tested his blood sugar. The result was not good, and they hurried to the emergency room where doctors declared his blood sugar to be at 870 mg/dl. Consequently, Elliott was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

This diagnosis meant necessary life changes, such as an alteration in diet. Elliott rebelled against the new rules, stating later that he "had to learn the hard way to take care of [himself]." In fact, Elliott has called learning to manage his diabetes the toughest obstacle of his life. For several years, Elliott endured daily injections and hypoglycemic seizures. At age 21, Elliott learned about pump therapy. Soon after, he began wearing an insulin pump.

Elliott ended up dropping out of high school, but still managed to attain his GED while working at a local FootLocker. He worked various jobs before his passion for music arose again. Elliott fed his infatuation by DJing at a local radio station and winning a karaoke contest that his friends encouraged him to enter. His confidence boosted, Elliott made a choice that would change his life forever.

In 2005, Elliott wanted to travel to Memphis to audition for a music competition. Hurricane Katrina, however, thwarted those plans, so Elliott headed to a Boston audition instead. After traveling more than 10 hours, he was the next-to-last contestant that day to perform in front of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. The judges liked what they heard and sent Elliott to Hollywood. That audition? It was for American Idol, the most well-known singing competition in the country, capable of and experienced in propelling talented artists to instant stardom.

Elliott survived the Hollywood rounds and became one of the top 24 contestants. Before long, he was in the final 3 and, due to American Idol's enormous popularity, already a household name. On May 17, 2006, Elliott was declared out of the competition after a .20% difference in votes separated him from fellow contestants Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks.

Reputed harsh judge Simon Cowell called Elliott the "nicest contestant ever" to come on the Fox singing competition. The friendly feeling was mutual, as Elliott called Simon his favorite judge due to Cowell's honest, non-sugarcoated critiques. The singer credited American Idol for "[validating his] artistry and [giving him] the confidence to accomplish anything [he sets] out to do."

After American Idol, Elliott appeared on a string of talk shows. For example, he was interviewed on The Tonight Show and Live with Regis and Kelly. He also accepted the offer to sing the national anthem at game 2 of the NBA finals — a proud moment for the big basketball fan.

Months after the competition, Elliott toured with the top 10 season 5 American Idol finalists. On October 8, 2006, Elliott performed at his first solo concert at the Virginia State Fair. Two months later, he released a single called "This Christmas" through AOL music, and also sang a cover of James Moody's "Moody's Mood for Love." He signed a contract with Sony/ATV Music that same month and announced a recording deal with Hickory Records the following January.

Elliott's self-titled debut album was an instant success. In the first week, it amassed 96,000 copies and achieved the #3 spot on the Billboard 200. The album broke the record for the highest independent artist debut in the history of Billboard Magazine. His singles "Movin' On" and "Wait for You" proved to be big hits on the radio.

Elliott has used his fame to encourage those with diabetes. He has involved himself in diabetes-related charities and events, such as the "Inspired by Diabetes Campaign." This program asks people with diabetes, their loved ones, and their healthcare team to share how the disease has affected their lives. As a successful singer who pursued his dream of musical artistry, Elliott is an inspiring model of how someone with diabetes can attain success.

After years of health struggles, uncertain life plans, and suppressed musical passion, Elliot Yamin has reached a new height. He has said, "When I'm onstage, I'm home. I have a sense of belonging I've never felt before. It feels like what I was born to do. It has put my whole life into perspective. It's like I finally figured it out; I finally got it right. I'm a singer."

 

Find more musicians with diabetes.

Last Modified Date: November 28, 2012

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