Nikki McKibbin has sadly passed away at the age of 42, according to her co-stars.
The Texas-born American Idol Season 1 finalist finished in third place on the show’s inaugural season in 2002.
Runner-up Justin Guarini confirmed the news on his Instagram on Saturday (October 31).
“@realnikkimckibbin was a fiery, funny lady who could sing the Hell out of a rock song with the same kind of ease and command she lovingly used to cut you with her twangy Southern wit. Even in our 20’s when we were on American Idol together I could tell that she’d had a challenging life, and that not that many people had been kind to her along the way…but I’ll never forget the day that her idol, Stevie Nicks, sent her flowers with a card that said ‘You are the Gypsy that I was…’. Nikki was on cloud nine and the joy and excitement that radiated from her was infectious. After the kind of emotional beating she took at the hands of the masses, she deserved to feel good about herself, even for a little while,” he wrote.
“Rest well, ‘Gypsy’…and thank you for the laughter, merciless teasing, strength, vulnerability, love and friendship you showed me during our time together in the spotlight.”
Finalist Jim Verraros also commented on Instagram.
” I can’t believe you’re gone. You were such a light for so many of us. You were unapologetically yourself and I loved that the most about you. You will be missed but I will always hold you close to my heart. Rest In Peace, beautiful soul,” he wrote.
Nikki‘s battle with cocaine and alcohol addiction was chronicled in 2008′s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, and later in a spin-off, Sober House.
In 2014, Nikki had a full-circle moment with the series when her 15-year-old-son Tristan auditioned for American Idol. He was cut during the Hollywood rounds.
Our thoughts are with Nikki‘s loved ones at this difficult time.