- 10:45 AM, Jan 21
Being number two does not always turn out to be an unsuccessful challenger and Clay Aiken has evinced it brilliantly. As the runner up of the 2003 American Idol, he has proven to score a fantastic attainment more than what the contest's winner, Ruben Studdard, has done. Perhaps all of these have never come to his mind before since he actually does not possess any intention and determination to be a famous singer. Born on November 30, 1978 in Raleigh, North Carolina, he has been named Clayton Holmes Grissom. When Clay was barely one year old, his violent and alcoholic father, Vernon Grissom deserted the family. His mother, Faye Aiken, then raised him on her own with deep affection. This strong willed woman quickly discovered that her son has talent in singing. By the age of 5, Clay was supported to perform at a local high school dance.
When Clay turned six, Faye remarried with Ray Parker. Through this man, he found out what the word "family" means. He, therefore, considered and respected him as his real father until Parker's death in July 2002. Meanwhile, Clay passed his childhood happily, along with his stepsister, Amy, stepbrother, Jeff, and half-brother, Brett. Growing up as a teenager, he joined Raleigh Boys Choir while also being involved in various musical projects, stage plays, and playhouse shows. Nevertheless, his love to teach and help children was greater so that he decided to concentrate on his study. After having been graduated from Raleigh's Leesville Road High School, he took special education major at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he later became the head of its Council of Exceptional Children. Most of his summertime was spent working at local YMCA as well as volunteering to help children with disabilities.
In the late 90s, Clay legally changed his last name to Aiken, cutting himself from all that was related to his biological father. By this time, he had carefully laid plans to establish a decent career in his life. He looked forward to earn a master degree in administration at the prestigious William & Mary College in Virginia. However, this intention apparently had to be deferred as he met Diane Bubel when he was assisting her autistic child. Bubel repeatedly prompted him to enroll in American Idol, a Fox's popular competition show which selects one's potentiality in singing and performing. Eventually giving in, he