Every now and then a story comes along that’s so extraordinary it takes your breath away. TV talent shows have a habit of finding a contestant that makes everybody sit up and take notice. Heartening tales of overcoming adversity are typical fodder on “Got Talent” and other reality shows, but the shocking saga of “China’s Got Talent” contestant Liu Wei makes this season’s batch of “America’s Got Talent” sob stories look like the pampered brats on VH1’s “You’re Cut Off.” And this is a true sob story–seriously, if you watch the video below and don’t get at least a little bit misty-eyed, you clearly have no soul.
Liu, now 23 years old, lost both of his arms in a freak accident when he was 10, after he touched an electrified wire while playing hide-and-seek. Both limbs were amputated and although initially he was distraught about his condition, he soon realized he had a choice to make.
“For people like me, there were only two options. One was to abandon all dreams, which would lead to a quick, hopeless death. The other was to struggle without arms to live an outstanding life,” Liu explained to the judges on “China’s Got Talent.” Thankfully, Liu chose the latter option.
However, these tragic circumstances did not stop Liu from pursuing his dream of becoming a pianist–teaching himself how to play with his feet at age 18, after one piano teacher told him he would never succeed. And it turns out, Liu has more talent in one of his pinky toes than most four-limbed piano players have in both of their hands.
Of course, contestants overcoming adversity is a frequent subtext of talent showcases, but Wei’s accomplishment is extraordinary. He told judges that teaching himself to play piano with his feet was “hard” and that he endured cramps and abrasions, but he also says his mother inspired him and he wanted to make his parents proud.
“Whatever other people do with their hands, I do with my feet. It’s just that,” says Liu. “Nobody ever decreed that to play the piano you must use your hands.”
Watch Liu’s perfect performance of “Mariage D’amour” below, and make sure to have some tissues nearby:
Liu’s performance on the August 8 2010 show wowed the audience and judges and blew away the competition as he gave an impeccable performance of the classical piece Mariage D’Amour on the piano with his toes. The stunned audience, many in tears, rose to a standing ovation at the conclusion of his performance. The judges bowed in respect to his achievement.
Apparently he taught himself how to play the piano in secret when he decided at the age of 18 that it was what he wanted to do, after his teacher said it would be impossible to play with toes.
This really puts into perspective life’s problems, doesn’t it?
Note: Liu Wei subsequently won the China’s Got Talent on October 10. Please read this new post on Liu Wei’s triumph.