Luke Bryan took off his cowboy boots and gave them to an American Idol contestant after spotting huge holes in his soles on Sunday’s episode of the ABC show.
The 42-year-old country star was moved after noticing 19-year-old Colby Swift wearing tattered boots as he performed during Hollywood Week.
Colby, who grew up without a mom after she fled the family when he was just age 10, was asked to show the bottom of his soles as he waited to learn if he was advancing.
Country star: Luke Bryan donated his boots to Colby Swift on Sunday’s episode of American Idol
‘What size shoe are you, Colby? Wouldn’t be a 12D would it?’ Luke asked, with the hopeful smiling as he said: ‘I mean, whatever fits.’
‘Well, I’m a 12D. We’ll solve that little problem,’ Luke told him, taking off his own expensive cowboy boots and walking up to the stage to hand them over.
Colby looked amazed, but finally put on the new boots after chants led by Katy Perry, 34, and Lionel Richie, 69, before doing a Moonwalk-like shuffle to show them off.
‘So Colby – those boots are made for walking to the next round,’ Luke told him, with the others from his line going through, too.
Teen talent: The 19-year-old singer performed with holes in his boots
Helping out: Luke decided to hand over his boots to Colby
The judges: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke judged the talent as Hollywood Week started
Luke soon regretted his generosity, however, when Colby was eliminated during the group rounds after forgetting the words to the Bruno Mars song Grenade.
‘They told me those boots were your lucky boots, and then you put my boots on and this happens,’ Luke told Colby as he hugged him after his bad news.
Colby however seemed to take it in stride.
In stride: Colby took his elimination in stride
‘I am leaving with my head held high – and Luke Bryan’s boots. They’re my boots now, they ain’t yours no more,’ he said with a smile.
He earlier had tears over a standing ovation for his solo performance of Freddy Fender’s Every Teardrop Falls, saying: ‘To have Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry stand up for me – that’s a blessing, man.’
The latest episode produced plenty of tears, with some early favorites eliminated – and particularly crushing rejections from those who got through the first solo step just to go home during the group performances.
Music stars: Luke, Katy and Lionel continued the search for the next American Idol
Perhaps the biggest sobs, however, came from Katy as she held a phone so that a sick mom could watch her son perform via FaceTime.
Dimitrius Graham, 27, told the judges that his mother was having surgery the next day, calling her ‘my American Idol’ and connecting for a video feed.
The contestant was first to cry as Katy told his mother she hoped the angels were looking over her, adding: ‘And speaking of an angel – your son is about to sing for us.’
Sick mother: Dimitrius Graham told the judges that his mother was having surgery the next day
Katy then completely lost it as she held up the phone for the mom to watch his performance of Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings, hiding her face and getting handed tissues by Luke.
‘What you think about that?’ Katy asked his mother afterward, with Lionel adding: ‘Your boy did it, sweetheart.’
Dimitrius later told them his mom’s surgery ‘went well’ – thanking the judges for ‘praying for her’ – as he also made it through the group stage.
Phone video: Katy help up a phone so the singer’s mother could watch him perform
Getting emotional: The pop star got emotional while holding up her phone
His team, calling themselves Unexpected Vibe, had Lionel in tears as Dimitrius along with Assata Renay, 26, and William Oliver Jr, 23, all put on blacked-out goggles ‘to be in perspective’ with blind teammate Shayy, 18.
‘That was amazing. You got me crying in the middle of the show!’ Lionel said as he rushed up to hug them, saying they helped ‘remind us what God’s gifts really look like.’
Tears flowing: Lionel also wiped away tears during the episode
Shayy earlier cried in frustration during rehearsals as she was unable to read the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way, with her mother finally coming in and taking her aside to help her learn them.
She joined Dimitrius and Assata in getting through, with William getting sent home after Lionel told him: ‘Keep fighting, my friend.’
There was drama in most of the group rounds – with Juan Pablo, 26, leaving Jade Flores, 22, in tears as she accused him of being ‘really bossy’ and begged him to ‘be nicer’ to the women in his team.
Blind singer: Shayy earlier cried in frustration during rehearsals as she was unable to read the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way
Family bond: The singer’s mother helped her learn they lyrics
‘I can only take so much, someone being so mean,’ sobbed Jade, who declared her dream of being the first female Hispanic country singer.
Jade had more tears as she was sent home at the end of their performance of Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, admitting: ‘I really wanted this so bad.’
Juan Pablo made it through – along with Myra Tran, 19, and Moriah Formica, 18 – despite Katy warning him in Spanish that he risked being too cheesy.
Group round: Juan Pablo after impressing during his audition struggled at the group level but still advanced
‘Make sure that it’s auténtico and doesn’t get queso,’ she said, warning he was ‘teetering on the line of queso fundido.’
‘No bueno,’ Luke added with a smile.
Wade Cota, 27, insisted he had never heard his group’s song – California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas – and wrote the lyrics on his arms.
But he still blundered his way through the performance admitting to the judges that ‘the shadow of my hand and my head covered’ the words.
Written down: Wade Cota wrote down the lyrics on his arm
Luke recalled his disastrous attempt at the same tactic for his performance of the National Anthem at the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, saying: ‘All of America saw it. It was awful.’
When Wade said ‘that’s where I learned it from,’ Luke quipped: ‘I would not emulate anything I do.’
Despite Wade’s disastrous performance, the judges still kept him in, instead sending home Grayson Little, 27, with Lionel telling him: ‘Grayson, we love you to death. Keep that personality, my friend.’
Music legend: Lionel gave Grayson Little a fond farewell
Luke then had heartbreak when he had to send home Ethan Payne, the 15-year-old with cystic fibrosis who previously appeared onstage with him thanks to the Make A Wish project.
‘I cannot believe I’m the one having to do this,’ Luke told him. ‘I love you – please stay strong, keep doing what you’re doing. But this is the end of the road.’
Ethan admitted that Luke breaking the news ‘hurt me most.’
‘He’s shattered my heart, but I still love him,’ the teen said of his own idol.
The biggest drama came for the final group of the episode – with an ambulance being called for Nate Walker, 18, who collapsed from a virus.
Throat hurts: ate Walker, 18, who collapsed from a virus, was complaining of throat pain
He earlier panicked at losing his voice in rehearsals, admitting that Billy Joel’s Longest Time was ‘a little high’ for his stricken voice.
‘He needs to go,’ an EMT worker told him, with the rest of his group ending the episode being told by adviser Bobby Bones: ‘You’re now a trio.’
He was not the only one to get sick, with Katy constantly sneezing and several other performers complaining of sore throats and dodgy tummies.
Feeling sick: Katy also was feeling under the weather
Eddie Island, 25, even admitted to ‘sneaking little pukes here and there’ before his solo performance of Death Cab For Cutie’s I’ll Follow You Into the Dark, celebrating to the judges: ‘And I didn’t barf!’
He’d admitted beforehand: ‘I can’t keep anything down. It’s not ideal … the last thing you wanna do is walk up there and throw up on Katy Perry.’
Katy’s own sickness had caused an unexpected dramatic moment as she sneezed loudly in the silence at the end of Margie Mays’ performance of Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down.
Made it: Margie Mays made it to the next round
She later used her tissue to wave in the air during Shawn Robinson’s performance of Sam Cooke’s Change Is Gonna Come that sent him through to the next rounds.
Katy also had some intentionally dramatic responses to some solo performances.
When Laci Kaye Booth, 23, finished her version of Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Katy stood up and pushed her chair down the stairs behind the judges’ table.
Good times: Katy had some dramatic reactions to some of the performances
‘I cannot stop dreaming about that girl,’ she insisted, as Laci left in tears of happiness.
Lionel and Luke then joined Katy in throwing their jackets at audition standout Alejandro Aranda, 24, after his version of Justin Bieber’s Sorry, during which Lionel said: ‘I could watch him all day.’
‘I never would have thought Katy Perry would be throwing clothing at me,’ Alejandro said later, laughing as he added: ‘Great day.’
Nailed it:Alejandro Aranda, 24, was praised after his version of Justin Bieber’s Sorry
Katy’s most theatrical display was saved for 17-year-old Madison Vandenburg who Luke called ‘the next Kelly Clarkson’ during her audition.
Trying to prove him right by singing Kelly’s hit Already Gone, Madison looked stunned at getting a huge ovation – with Katy pretending to run out a door at the back of the theater.
‘Katy’s out – you ran her out the room,’ Lionel quipped.
Touch decisions: The judges debated on which singers to keep
Hollywood Week saw the end for some favorites from the auditions, including Jorgie, who came out to his family on the show, as well as Sergeant Landon Knowlton who admitted his nerves beat him.
Peach Martine, meanwhile, refused to let her elimination get the best of her confidence, insisting: ‘I’m going to be the next Mick Jagger and they can all watch.’
Lauren Engle, who had one of the most heartbreaking stories of the season – being just age 27 when she lost her husband in a car accident – was also out.
Audition standout Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, 26, made it through – having quit his job as a janitor at his dad’s church largely because of his sexuality.
‘It was a little scary coming out to my family in a world where homosexuality is condemned,’ he had explained.
Hollywood week: Lionel, Katy and Luke were pumped for Hollywood Week
‘I know that my parents love me, but I know that they can’t accept the fact that I’m gay. And they won’t.
‘I really don’t want to get eliminated. At this point I have very little to go back to. Because I don’t exactly feel like me being openly gay and working at my dad’s church is excepted. So I’ve decided to leave.’
After getting through thanks to his version of Carole King’s Beautiful, he insisted: ‘This is definitely one of the greatest moments of my life. I am not going back to being a janitor, that is for sure.
There was a further twist for former contestant Laine Hardy, 18, who only came to an audition to support family friend Ashton Gill – but got a ticket to Hollywood, too.
Laine then made it through both the solo and group performances – while the contestant he was supposed to be backing got sent home.
He’s back: Laine Hardy also made it through the solo and group performances