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Nikki McKibbin Reflected on Her Struggles a Year Before Her Death

Nikki McKibbin got candid about her personal struggles a year before her death.

The American Idol Season 1 alum sadly passed away over the weekend at the age of 42.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career, but also in life in general. I’ve battled substance abuse and I’m winning, but it’s still a struggle every day. For a long time, I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t being the person I should be. I’m in a better place now,” she told People in 2019.

She also talked about being in the very first season of the show, and having no idea of “how big it was going to be.”

“Then the show blew up and became a big thing and before I knew it, I was on magazine covers and being recognized everywhere I went. It was a good thing, but obviously my career never became what Kelly [Clarkson]’s was. Which is okay, but I was hoping that the exposure would be more for me.”

“People automatically assumed that I was some millionaire because I was in the show, and nothing could be further from the truth. A couple of years later, I was still struggling financially, but people expect that you’re living this glamorous life and I’m like, ‘I’m just trying to pay my electric bill!’” she revealed.

“The worst was when Tamyra [Grey] was voted off before me. There wasn’t social media, but there were message boards that basically said I should quit the competition because I was a fraud. The worst ones were saying that I should kill myself. Then it came out that I had been a stripper before Idol. I did it for like five weeks and it became a scandal after I became famous,” she went on to say.

“I did deal with addiction and that was hard, and I, unfortunately, made that a public thing with Dr. Drew. So then I had to explain to people that I was ok, that I was recovering, that I was fine. But now people always assume that I’m on something even when I’m not. I get it, though. I lied so much and was in such denial that how can you possibly believe me? I get it.”

She also said she became addicted to painkillers after back surgery.

“I’m not anymore, but I was. Chronic pain can do a number on you,” she said.

“I’ve got a good life now. My husband is an amazing man. [Son] Tristen is all grown up but he’s the best son a mom could want. Just because life is hard doesn’t mean that there aren’t blessings along the way. So I continue to perform and write music. I continue to sing, and I will always do that. Am I going to become a household name? No, but I can make money doing it and it brings me happiness. And that’s what’s important. I’m doing well. I’m a survivor and I’ve come this far. That’s a good thing.”

American Idol issued a statement following her death.

Our thoughts are with Nikki McKibbin‘s loved ones at this difficult time.

We have sadly lost all of these stars in 2020.

'American Idol' Releases Statement on Nikki McKibbin's Sudden Death at 42

Nikki McKibbin, a fan favorite finalist on American Idol‘s very first season, passed away suddenly at the age of 42 from a brain aneurysm.

Now, the show is releasing a statement on her sudden death and mourning her loss.

Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing. She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends during this difficult time,” the show tweeted.

You can see what some of Nikki‘s fellow American Idol contestants wrote about her passing right here.

Our continued thoughts are with Nikki‘s loved ones during this difficult time.

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Nikki McKibbin Dead - 'American Idol' Alum Dies at 42

Nikki McKibbin has sadly passed away at the age of 42, according to her co-stars.

The Texas-born American Idol Season 1 finalist finished in third place on the show’s inaugural season in 2002.

Sources connected to Nikki‘s family tell TMZ she died of a brain aneurysm. She was in the hospital on life support, and at 3 A.M., she was taken to the operating room, where her organs were harvested and she was pronounced dead, according to the report.

Runner-up Justin Guarini confirmed the news on his Instagram on Saturday (October 31).

“@realnikkimckibbin was a fiery, funny lady who could sing the Hell out of a rock song with the same kind of ease and command she lovingly used to cut you with her twangy Southern wit. ⁣Even in our 20’s when we were on American Idol together I could tell that she’d had a challenging life, and that not that many people had been kind to her along the way…but I’ll never forget the day that her idol, Stevie Nicks, sent her flowers with a card that said ‘You are the Gypsy that I was…’. Nikki was on cloud nine and the joy and excitement that radiated from her was infectious. After the kind of emotional beating she took at the hands of the masses, she deserved to feel good about herself, even for a little while,” he wrote.⁣

“Rest well, ‘Gypsy’…and thank you for the laughter, merciless teasing, strength, vulnerability, love and friendship you showed me during our time together in the spotlight.”

Season 10 alum Pia Toscano commented on the post, writing: “Oh no :( I loved Nikki.”

Finalist Jim Verraros also commented on Instagram.

“I can’t believe you’re gone. You were such a light for so many of us. You were unapologetically yourself and I loved that the most about you. You will be missed but I will always hold you close to my heart. Rest In Peace, beautiful soul,” he wrote.

Nikki‘s battle with cocaine and alcohol addiction was chronicled in 2008′s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, and later in a spin-off, Sober House.

In 2014, Nikki had a full-circle moment with the series when her 15-year-old-son Tristan auditioned for American Idol. He was cut during the Hollywood rounds.

Our thoughts are with Nikki‘s loved ones at this difficult time.

We have sadly lost all of these stars in 2020.

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