“The love of my life Nikki Sadler suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday,” wrote Sadler. “She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us.” (Read his full post here.)
McKibbin placed third on her Idol season, behind winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini. She famously sang Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” for her audition, which immediately advanced her to the next round of the competition.
Idol released the following statement via Twitter: “Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing. She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends during this difficult time.” (See more tributes to McKibbin from Idol judges, hosts and castmates here.)
Prior to her time spent with Idol judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, McKibbin appeared on the first season of another singing competition, Popstars, which aired on the WB in 2001. There, she competed with hopes of joining the girl group Eden’s Crush, but ultimately was not chosen as part of the group’s final lineup.
McKibbin released her debut album, Unleashed, on May 22, 2007 and toured throughout the year with Texas metal band Rivethead. In 2012, she released the EP Psychotrip with the band Love Stricken Demise.
The singer returned to television in 2008 as part of the second season of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. Fellow cast members included Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, actors Jeff Conaway and Gary Busey and civil rights figure Rodney King. When the season wrapped, she appeared on its spinoff series, Sober House.
McKibbin briefly re-appeared on Season 13 of Idol, when she accompanied her son Tristan to his audition; he made it through to the Hollywood round, but was cut prior to the live shows.