This smooth, soulful singer overcame various obstacles---partial deafness, Type 1 diabetes, his parents' divorce while he was a teen and being a high-school dropout---to rise to the final three of American Idol's fifth season. (Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee placed first and second that year, respectively.) Although he had no formal singing training before Idol, Simon Cowell touted Yamin as "potentially the best male vocalist ever" on the show. The charming contestant idled in his Idol start, however. His initial audition in Boston never aired, so when he made it to the Final 12, viewers knew little about him, plus his strong vibrato managed to turn some people off. Still, this quintessential nice guy rarely hit a bum note and earned many fans, including appraiser Paula Abdul, who openly favored him to win. Yamin's music career blossomed when he signed a publishing deal with Sony in 2006, and he released no less than four CDs by 2010. He also kept his Idol ties strong, displaying a humanitarian spirit by going to Africa with judge Kara DioGuardi in 2010 for the fund-raising initiative "Idol Gives Back." But it was another event in 2010 that literally shook his world: While in Chili for an international singing competition, he survived a deadly 8.8-magnitude earthquake.
- Family moved from California to Virginia when he was a tween.
- Worked at a shoe store, at a pharmacy and as a DJ for an R&B station.
- Has lost 90% of hearing in his right ear and has Type 1 diabetes.
- Says his most embarrassing moment on American Idol occurred during the Hollywood auditions when he forgot the opening words to a song.
- In 2010, visited Africa with Idol judge Kara DioGuardi in support of the fund-raising initiative "Idol Gives Back."
- Competed at an international song festival in Vina del Mar, Chili, in February 2010. While he was there, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck.
- Served as an on-location reporter in the aftermath of the Chilean earthquake, relaying information to media outlets, including Larry King Live.
- Claudette Yamin — Mother
- Scott Yamin — Brother
- Jodi Queen — Half Sister
- Birth Name: Ephraim Yamin
- Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, United States
- Profession: Singer, Reality-show contestant