She Finished 3rd on the First Idol, Now Dead at 42

Nikki McKibbin had an aneurysm last week, donated her organs
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2020 2:45 AM CST
Updated Nov 2, 2020 6:01 AM CST
American Idol Finalist Dead at 42
Nikki McKibbin celebrates during the final episode of Fox's television competition "American Idol," in Los Angeles, in this Sept. 4, 2002, file photo.   (AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson, File)

Nikki McKibbin, the third-place finalist from the first season of American Idol, died Sunday at age 42. "The love of my life Nikki Sadler suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday," her husband Craig Sadler posted on Facebook on Saturday. "She would already be gone, but she's an organ donor and has been kept on life support to make that possible. That shouldn't be a surprise to us. Even at the end she is still giving." He said she would be taken to the operating room in the wee hours of Sunday "to give her final gift that will save the lives of strangers." The show itself, the host and a judge, season one runner-up Justin Guarini, and other 2002 contestants were among those sharing tributes. McKibbin went on to appear on reality shows including Fear Factor and Battle of the Network Reality Stars, Us reports.

In 2008, she participated in Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, where she was treated for cocaine and alcohol addiction, and TMZ reports she later moved into a sober living house for a stint on Celebrity Rehab spin-off Sober House on VH1. She returned to Celebrity Rehab to celebrate three years of sobriety. She released her debut album in 2007 and an EP five years later that was recorded with the band Love Stricken Demise. The AV Club reports that in the wake of her first album, which was delayed due to her record company wanting her to do a country album rather than rock, she toured with a metal band and appeared on Christmas compilations. People reports that in 2014, she supported her then 15-year-old son as he competed on Idol; he made it to Hollywood but was then cut. (More American Idol stories.)

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