Here are some of the contestants whose back stories have been highlighted on this season of "Idol:"
San Francisco contestant James Durbin never got to know his dad, a bass player, before he died of a drug overdose. To make matters worse, Durbin was diagnosed with Tourette's and Asperger's syndromes and was picked on as a child. Today, he's the father of a baby, but can barely afford diapers since he's unemployed. Durbin has made it through to the next round.
Stefano Langone, another San Francisco contestant, was so severely injured during a car accident that EMTs initially thought he was dead. He performed "Heard It through the Grapevine" for his audition, and judge Steven Tyler declared, "You survived the accident for a reason, and I'm going to tell you why -- you're going to Hollywood!" And so far he has survived Hollywood week.
Julie Zorrilla was forced to adjust to a new country, after her parents came to the United States from their native Colombia to avoid local terrorists. Zorrilla is still in the competition.
New Orleans contestant Paris Tassin became pregnant at 18, and her daughter was diagnosed in utero with hydrocephalus. Tassin went through with the pregnancy, and today her daughter Keira has hearing problems but is otherwise healthy.
"I did that for my daughter," Paris said after her audition brought judge Jennifer Lopez to tears. "I want to teach her, 'Go for your dreams. Do everything you want to do in life.'"
Tassin didn't make it past the group round.
Ellen Anne Reed, a Carly Simon-lookalike, lost her home in a fire a week before her audition. She was voted to go to Hollywood despite a "no" from Tyler. It's not clear is she's still in.
Teenager Travis Orlando took "Idol" cameras through his rough Bronx neighborhood, plagued by crime and murder, and described living in a shelter for a couple of years when his family fell on hard times.
Sadly, Orlando's "Idol" journey came to an end after a lackluster performance during Hollywood week.