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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 5

Elliott Yamin dishes on post-'Idol' success, dealing with diabetes


By Christopher Rocchio, 11/07/2007 

Elliott Yamin may have come up just short in his bid to win American Idol's fifth-season, but the success of his self-titled debut album and its hit-single "Wait for You" have still helped him find a niche in the music industry.

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"I didn't know how huge the song was going to be when I recorded it but I knew it was going to be something special," said Yamin in a recent interview with Parade.  "But it's really taken me and my young career to new heights that I've only dreamed of. It feels amazing, it feels great."

Yamin's self-titled debut dropped in April on Billboard's Top 40 Albums chart at No. 3, selling 90,439 copies in its first week out.  However he's also using its success  to support a cause that's close to his heart.  The 29-year-old Richmond, VA native -- who was diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager -- is currently working with a competition called "Inspired by Diabetes."

"It's a freedom of expression competition where diabetics can share their stories through art, through music, through paintings and so forth," he told Parade.  "They can win trips to Italy, they can win backstage passes and concert tickets to my shows, it's a really cool way for people to share their stories with everybody through art."

"It benefits another program called Life for a Child, which raises money for developing countries around the world where there are kids with diabetes that lack insulin and medical care," continued Yamin.  "So we're also raising money to bring diabetics insulin who don't have insulin."

Since he was diagnosed with diabetes at a "very young age," Yamin said he knows all about the various hurtles it can present.

"It was hard for me to adjust to treating my diabetes, but it was also hard to admit that I had it. I was in denial," he told Parade.  "That was a big hump for me to get over. I didn't understand how I could just go from being a normal kid to having this incurable lifelong disease in a matter of a day's time. I was very angry. I was very upset. I didn't know how to deal with it and I didn't want to tell people, I was embarrassed by it. And I certainly didn't want to seem like some charity case."

Yamin said just because he gained celebrity status from participating on Idol doesn't mean his days of dealing with diabetes is over.

"There are times during the day where I'm just relaxing and then I start getting dizzy and start getting anxious leading up to show time. All the anxiety that comes along with this gig affects my blood sugar," he explained to Parade.  "I just have to be more keen about how my body feels and check my blood sugar more often. Even so, I still get my highs and lows. But as long as I recognize the signs right away and correct them, I am fine."

Yamin said suffering from diabetes presents a far greater challenge than he ever faced on Idol.

"Quite frankly, I'm tired of taking insulin and pumping my stomach every three days and pricking my finger and drawing blood out of it every day -- it's a tedious, meticulous, annoying disease that never goes away -- and I want to get rid of it like everybody else does," he told Parade, adding it also affects the way he interacts with others.

"I'm a little apprehensive about wearing the insulin pump; I have this catheter in my stomach. Some people just don't know about it," he continued.  "They don't know what diabetes is. People don't know what insulin pumps are. So socially, you feel like an outcast a little bit. You have to tell people, 'This is what's going on, this is why I have this thing on my stomach.'"

Dealing with diabetes on an everyday basis, Yamin said he has "no choice" but to help "find a cure and be a positive role model."

"I made a point of that from the very beginning that I was going to use my platform to do some good things and to do some better -- whether it's people with diabetes or cancer patients," he told Parade.  "Things can always be worse, and I always look at that... It's just important for me to spread my cheer and spread positivity around and help people. I come from a family with big hearts, so I love to put smiles on people's faces. It's one thing to do concerts, but going to hospitals to meet kids who are sick makes it all worthwhile for me."

The best advice Yamin said he can give is to "stay positive" and "don't let the disease hold you back."

"Never lose sight of your goals and your dreams -- because they are all attainable -- no matter what you have or what you're going through," he told Parade.  "I think the fact that I am living my dream and being really productive and embarking on all my lifelong aspirations is proof enough that if I can do it, anyone can. I try to tell everybody to dream big and go after their dreams."

As for his personal life, Yamin said he's currently dating 27-year-old model Jamie Paetz.

"She's very beautiful," he told Parade.  "She's the love of my life."


(Photo credit Fox)


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