MODESTO, Calif. — The City of Modesto is cheering on hometown singer Ryan Hammond, who wowed the American Idol judges Monday night punching his ticket to Hollywood.

Hammond, 25, who now lives in San Jose, blew the judges away with his rendition of Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down"

His aunt, Denise McCauley, says Hammond grew up in a musical family, singing at Celebration Center in Modesto, where his dad was worship director and now lead pastor.

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"Even though he had the talent, he sometimes was just not confident in himself, and he struggled with his weight," McCauley told ABC10.

And that was an emotional journey he shared with the American Idol judges.

Hammond got gastric bypass surgery to aid in his weight loss and changed his eating and workout habits, his aunt says.

"He's worked really, really hard to get where he is and very proud of him. Very proud," said McCauley.

American Idol kicks off Hollywood Week this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC10.

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