American Idol contestant Nikki McKibbin dies

Nikki McKibbin, a singer from Texas best known for her third place finish in the first season of American Idol, has died aged 42.

McKibbin's husband, Craig Sadler, confirmed her death in a Facebook post, saying she had died after suffering a brain aneurysm on Wednesday and was taken off life support early on Sunday.

She appeared on American Idol in 2002, finishing third behind Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, who won the competition.

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The four finalists in the reality television series "American Idol The Search for a Superstar" (L-R) Tamyra Gray, Justin Guarini, Kelly Clarkson and Nikki McKibbin arrive as guests at the premiere of the new film "Swimfan" August 19, 2002 in Los Angeles. The film which stars Jesse Bradford and Erika Christensen opens September 6 in the United States, and is about a high school senior with a promising swimming career who has a one-night stand with sinister consequences. REUTERS/Fred Prouser FSP
Nikki McKibbin during "American Idol" Season 1 - Finalists Portraits at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Nikki McKibbin at FOX TV's "American Idol", broadcast live from Television City in Los Angeles, Ca. Tuesday, July 16, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX*** Please Call For Usage ***
(Left to right) Three of FOX's American Idol finalists, Kelly Clarkson, Nikki McKibbin and Tamyra Gray get together backstage at the FOX 2002 SummerTCA Tour at the Huntington Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, CA on Monday, July 22, 2002. Photo credit: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
"American Idol"'s Nikki McKibbin during The 2002 Teen Choice Awards - Arrivals at The Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Nikki McKibbin performs at FOX-TV's "American Idol" in Los Angeles, Ca. Tuesday, August 27, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX.*** Please Call For Usage ***
Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman with Nikki McKibbin after she was elimated at FOX-TV's "American Idol" in Los Angeles, Ca. Wednesday, August 28, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX.*** Please Call For Usage ***
Nikki McKibbin, Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson at FOX-TV's "American Idol" in Los Angeles, Ca. Wednesday, August 28, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX.*** Please Call For Usage ***
Nikki McKibbin during "American Idol" Season 1 Finale - Results Show - Arrivals at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Christina Christian , Tamyra Gray, Nikki McKibbin, Kelly Clarkson and Ryan Starr at FOX-TV's "American Idol" finale at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
Nikki McKibbin performs during the "American Idol in Vegas" concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena September 18, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Justin Guarini, George Clinton and Nikki McKibbin during Prince Listening Party for "One Nite Alone...Live" at Jimmy's Uptown in Harlem in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Nikki McKibbin during 2005 LA Pride - Day 2 at West Hollywood Park in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20: Nikki McKibbin arrives at the American Idol Season 8 Grand Finale held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on May 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Twenty year old Kelly Clarkson (C) of Burleston, Texas, winner in the competition of the television reality music program "American Idol" sings "A Moment Like This" to end the telecast September 4, 2002 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood as she is congratulated by fellow contestants (L-R) Ryan Starr, Tamyra Gray, Justin Guarini, Christina Christian, Nikki McKibbin and Ejay Day. Clarkson wins a recording contract and will also tour the country performing with the other American Idol contestants. The contestants reunite for a television special "American Idol in Las Vegas which will be telecast September 23. BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE REUTERS/Fred Prouser FSP
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"She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us," Sadler said.

"She loved so many of you and I know you loved her too."

As a 23-year-old from Grand Prairie, Texas, McKibbin impressed the American Idol judges with soulful performances of songs by Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks and a stirring cover of Alanna Myles' song Black Velvet.

Gracious in defeat, McKibbin tearfully hugged her fellow contestants when she was voted out.

"What an incredible journey this has been," McKibbin said before leaving the stage. "Just to know that so many people support me and enjoy what I do means more than anything in the world."

The often acid-tongued Simon Cowell was equally gracious.

"Reality check: Out of 10,000 people, you are third. This is not a time for tears," he told McKibbin. "You've got a career ahead of you."

In a statement, American Idol sent its condolences to McKibbin's family and friends.

"Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing," the TV show said in a statement posted on Twitter.

"She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed."

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