In spite battling a chronic disease and undergoing multiple surgeries while he competed, Phillip Phillips proved that staying true to his own aesthetic paid off, all of which helped him take the title of season 11's "American Idol" (Fox, 2002-16). He was born on Sept. 20, 1990 in Leesburg, GA and grew up in nearby Sasser, where he attended Lee County High School. Prior to competing on "Idol," Phillips majored in Industrial Systems Technology at Albany Technical College and worked at his family's pawnshop. Armed with his guitar, he auditioned in Savannah, GA for "American Idol," where he sang Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" (1972) and Michael Jackson's smash hit "Thriller" (1984). His performances helped him advance to the semi-finals round held in Hollywood, where he attempted to impress judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler several times before he earned a spot as one of the competition's Top 13 finalists.