MODESTO, Calif. — A rising star from Modesto is moving on to the next round in American Idol.

Ryan Hammond, 25, is now a finalist on the 17th season of ABC's hit show. Hammond's voice and personal story won the hearts of the judges on week one when he sang Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down" and almost made Katy Perry cry.

"I've been waiting for this moment forever, but then for it to finally be here, I don't know, you can't even believe it's happening," he said.

This hometown son of a church pastor made it through Hollywood week and now, he's in the top 40 and will head to the third round at Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa this Sunday, March 31.

"I'm just Ryan Hammond from Modesto, California, but when I walk out on stage, people are screaming and taking pictures and like, 'Oh my gosh, can you please take a picture with us?' Like, 'Please hold my daughter!'" he said.

With big dreams of someday touring across the nation and selling out venues, he hopes to use this platform to tell his deeper story.

"I did, over the last year and a half, lose 170 pounds," Hammond told the judges at his first audition.

He even opened up to the judges about his emotional transformation on day one.

"What if there's one person out there who never realized that weight loss surgery was an option, and it's a matter of their health being on the line in 10 years versus having a surgery they never heard about, and being like, 'Oh, OK, I can do this without being ashamed,'" he said.

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Hammond says watching every single season of American Idol inspired him to audition for the show three times until he finally got through to the judges on his third try.

"Whatever your dream is, don't give up on it because it's all about the right moment, the right time. And even if you feel like you're not making it, every single thing that you accomplish along the way is getting you ready for that moment for your dream to come true," he said.

Hammond will be competing for a spot in the top 20 this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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