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Last week on the reality dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance, dancer CJ Butler used Andy Mineo’s 2016 single “Desperados” for a powerful performance.

Before the song, he told the judges his heartbreaking story:

Three years ago, my mother was killed … by my stepfather, and I was there to witness it, me and my little brother. And I was trying to fight for her life. With everything that happened that night, I felt like I failed her because I didn’t save her. I miss my mom every day, but I try to remember how she lived. The way she raised me was to never give up. You realize if you want to do something that you love, you have to go after it. You only have so much time.

Though he didn’t advance to the next round, the judges encouraged him to keep using his gift to inspire others.

Vanessa Hudgens said: ”You are inspiring so many people to find dance and to have that as an outlet. You have so much passion. It’s just time to polish that talent and continue to grow.