La’Porsha Renae, this season’s American Idol runner-up is an undeniable talent. The 22-year-old single mother sung her way into the hearts of American viewers while sharing pieces of her background all season long. Renae has proven that it truly pays off to fearlessly go after your dreams.

Here are three facts to know about the rising star:

This wasn’t the first time the McComb, Mississippi native auditioned for American Idol.
Renae first auditioned for season 8 of Idol when she was 16 years old.

She’s a domestic violence survivor. Renae got married soon after her high school graduation. Her now-ex husband was in the Air Force so she moved to South Carolina, where he was stationed. Renae told local Mississippi TV station WDAM that she endured years of abuse at the hands of her husband. They separated after 10 months of marriage. The Air Force reportedly charged him with five counts of sexual battery and rape but he never served time because he convinced Renae not to testify against him.

She once lived in a shelter. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter Nayale, Renae says she left her husband. With nowhere to go, she moved into a local shelter with Nayale. She later moved to California to pursue her singing dreams. “I just want her to be proud,” Renae told WMAD. “And I wanted to provide the best life I could for her. I think we’re well on our way. I really do think that getting the golden ticket for American Idol it’s just the start of something really great.”

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