She was just 17 years old when she became a contestant on season three of “American Idol,” and on Jan. 31, Leah LaBelle’s life ended much too soon at the age of 31.
According to “E! News,” Leah and her husband, NBA star Rasual Butler, died in a car accident in Los Angeles when the Land Rover they were traveling in hit a curb and rolled over twice. Leah and Rasual were pronounced dead at the scene.
Leah, whose family escaped Bulgaria by going on tour as musicians and never returning, had already gained a huge following before she ever auditioned for the hit reality TV show, thanks to intimate YouTube videos of her performing at home and in the car. She continued the videos even after she signed a recording contract.
In spite of her youth, she gave a very mature and polished a cappella performance for her “Idol” audition.
The petite beauty continued on with the show through group performances and the semi-finals, where she truly blossomed performing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”
Sadly, her time on the show was also cut short when she was eliminated in the highly competitive soul round, despite her confident performance of “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Fan and peer favorite Fantasia Barrino went on to win season three, and the fellow R&B singer expressed her heartbreak over Leah’s death on social media.
After completing high school, Leah went on to sign a record deal.
Leah’s husband, Rasual, most recently played with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his 14-year career, he had also spent time with the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angles Clippers and Chicago Bulls.
Leah’s peers and fans took to social media to share their grief and condolences, including fellow season three competitor Latoya London.
“American Idol” also sent a message with its sympathies for the family.
And judge Paula Abdul, who was so pivotal to Leah’s success, mourned the incredible loss.
Condolences continue to pour in from the music community and Leah’s fans.
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I’m still like this can not be true! I grew to know her from YouTube videos that I seen of her and I instantly became a fan because of that beautiful voice and the way she would just be herself. @leahlabelle you will surely be missed my heart ♥️ really goes out to the family #rip #leahlabelle
Rare Country would like to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of this rising star and her talented husband.