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It has been a decade since Ruben Studdard was crowned the winner of “American Idol” and launched a successful music career. Last week he returned to television on a very different stage, hoping to lose weight and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. Born in Germany and raised in Birmingham, Alabama with an older brother, Ruben recalls being overweight since the age of 10. He received a football scholarship to Alabama A&M University, where he studied music, but continued to struggle with his weight as an adult due to a poor diet. “When I turned 34, I realized I wasn’t young anymore,” he says, “and that I wanted to live a long time. It was time for a change.” Now 35 years old and initially weighing in at 462 pounds on the show, Ruben suffers from sleep apnea and high blood pressure.
Professionally, the Velvet Teddy Bear (as nicknamed by Gladys Knight for his smoothly soothing vocal style) is a Grammy-nominated artist with a number of gold and platinum albums. His urban radio hits include “Sorry 2004,” “Superstar,” “Make Ya Feel Beautiful” and “Change Me,” and he also scored a No. 1 gospel hit with the song “I Need an Angel.” In addition, he created The Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts, promoting the arts in education through learning initiatives for students in the Birmingham area. After all his accomplishments, Ruben now hopes to achieve success in the weight-loss arena, and most looks forward to shopping for clothes and going to an amusement park after he loses the weight.