6 Months After Being in ICU, Tori Kelly Returns to ‘American Idol’ as Celebrity Mentor

Tori Kelly

Heavy/ABC Tori Kelly in Hawaii as a mentor on season 22 of "American Idol"

After collapsing at a Los Angeles restaurant in late July 2023 and winding up in a coma for several days, singer Tori Kelly says she’s grateful for the chance to return to “American Idol” more than a decade after being a contestant.

On the April 7, 2024, episode Kelly appears as a celebrity mentor to 12 of the Top 24 contestants, working with them before they perform at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii. She filmed her mentorship sessions with the group in early February, just over six months after being hospitalized for life-threatening blood clots in her legs and lungs.

“I just feel more grateful in general for life,” she told “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show, “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” on April 5. “I always had this sort of gratefulness, you know — ‘I’m so happy, this and that” — but I think when you have a health scare like that, you realize how fragile life is and how fragile we all are.”

Tori Kelly Says Was Overwhelmed by the Love Sent Her Way During Medical Crisis


On July 23, TMZ broke the news that Kelly had collapsed while out to dinner with friends in downtown Los Angeles and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where doctors discovered the life-threatening blood clots. A source told the outlet at the time that the situation was “really serious” and that Kelly had been “in and out of consciousness” since arriving at the hospital.

Pulmonary embolisms occur when blood clots travel from the legs to a lung, according to Mayo Clinic, which can be life-threatening because blood flow to the lungs is blocked.

Three days after she was placed in the ICU, her husband — German-born basketball player André Murillo — provided a hopeful update in his Instagram Stories, telling fans that Kelly was “smiling again and feeling stronger” but “not fully out of the woods.”

TMZ reported that Kelly was released from the hospital five days after her collapse. In September, she told Entertainment Tonight that her medical emergency came without any warning.

“It happened out of nowhere,” she said. “I was feeling just a little tired throughout the day, and my heart rate was kind of high.”

“”On one end, it was scary,” she continued, “and then on another end, I did feel this sense of unexplainable peace that it was gonna be OK. I just felt like God had me and it was gonna be OK, but yeah, definitely in the midst of that it was just kind of a confusing whirlwind.”

She told Seacrest during their interview that she continues to be on blood thinning medication, but that she feels healthy. Looking back on the experience, Kelly told him that she is not only grateful for her life but for the people who lifted her up during that time.

“Friends and family, all these loved ones, were reaching out and it was this overwhelming amount of love towards me,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Whoa, like I just want to cherish every moment.”

Tori Kelly Says Mentoring ‘American Idol’ Contestants Was a ‘Full Circle Moment’

Tori Kelly, Quintavious Johnson

ABCTori Kelly and “American Idol” season 22 contestant Quintavious Johnson at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii

Kelly and country star Jelly Roll teamed up to mentor the season 22 “Idol” contestants who made it through to compete in Hawaii, with each star listening to and guiding 12 aspiring singers.

The experience was special for Kelly, who auditioned for the show in season 9 and filmed with Seacrest in her home when she was just 16. The two reminisced about her time on “Idol” during her appearance on his radio show, after he played a clip from her audition.

“Even just hearing that, I feel like I sound nervous,” she said. “Like, I can hear little quivers in my voice and I just think I had so much to prove back then. I was like, ‘This is my shot and I have to be the best I can be.'”

The Grammy nominee, who didn’t make it past Hollywood Week, continued, “I remember in the audition area — and the (season 22) contestants will relate to this — everyone was just singing all the time, so it created this sort of pressure and this kind of heightened intensity, because you’re hearing all these other singers. And then you’re like, ‘Okay, well I should be practicing too, but I don’t want to ruin my voice.”

“Everything felt so intense,” Kelly recalled, “and I think now, having the career that I have and having kind of put in the work, I guess I feel I’m actually able to enjoy it now.”

Kelly said that opportunities like mentoring contestants in Hawaii are the kinds of things she no longer takes for granted, telling Seacrest that she “had a blast.”

“I was so grateful to be there,” she said. “I can put myself in their shoes very easily, so it was just kind of like a full circle moment for me.”

Kelly also told Billboard that mentoring the young singers, she was “definitely transported back to the time I was on the show.”

“I remember wanting to prove so much and go full out every time (I sang),” she recalled. “It’s so hard showing all of yourself in one song. You have two minutes to say “here I am as an artist” and I think that knowing what that pressure was like helped a lot.”