LOST Voice Guy's grandmother has revealed the Britain's Got Talent winner almost died as a young child.
Ethel Foster, 91, said there were no signs there was anything wrong when Lee Ridley of Consett, Co Durham, was born.
But when he was around two-years-old, his parents David, 62, and Janet, 62, noticed he was developing slower than other children.
He was then struck down by a mystery illness and doctors performed a battery of tests and later diagnosed cerebral palsy.
Ethel said: "At one stage the doctors said they didn't think he would survive but he pulled through and his mum and dad had to nurse him day and night. It was a tough time.
"Growing up was hard. He was always having a tumble and tripped over the least little thing.
"We had to watch him like a hawk in case he hurt himself, just like he did before the BGT final.
"He was always having a tumble but he is as hard as nails.
"And he couldn't talk at all but he was always on computers growing up and he had lots of friends.
"He's never been able to talk but he's always been able to make people laugh."
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Janet, who also has a daughter Nicola, 33, gave up work as a nurse to care for him full time before returning to her career as Lee got older.
Lee moved out of the family home a few years ago to live on his own in a flat in Newcastle.
He has a carer and his mum, now retired, visits every other day to check on him.
The family are close and David, who worked in sales for Mars before retiring, and Janet were in London with other relatives for the final.
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But Ethel didn't make the trip to London to watch him in Sunday's final - because she was too nervous.
Instead she watched it at home with her family - and screamed with delight when the nation voted for him.
Ethel said: "I was confident he would win but I was too nervous to go and watch it. I'm still nervous now.
"I watched it here instead with my son and daughter-in-law and we were screaming and shouting.
"I was really proud of him but I knew he could do it because he has always made people laugh. He has never been able to talk but he has always been funny.
"He used to take all my cushions outside when he was here and jump around on them and he was always laughing himself and that made other people laugh.
"I wasn't sure when he said he was going to give up work and do comedy full time. I was flabbergasted really.
"But I am so proud at what he has achieved. It's because of his attitude to life. He is disabled but he doesn't think he is disabled.
"If he says he is going to do something then he does it. When he first wanted to go on BGT he just said he could do it and that was that.
"He has had to overcome more than most to get where he and it has been hard for the family.
"But he is a national hero now and that is a lovely thing for the family.