Simon Cowell paid tribute to Louis Tomlinson‘s mother, Johanna Deakin, who died of leukemia on December 7, after the former One Direction singer performed his new song with Steve Aoki, “Just Hold On,” on the season 13 finale of The X Factor.
“I’ve known you now for six years [and] what you’ve just done, and the bravery, I respect you as an artist, I respect you as a person,” the TV judge, 57, said on Saturday, December 10. “Your mum was so proud of you, Louis, and she was so looking forward to tonight. She’s looking down on you now. She’s so proud.”
At the end of the performance, Tomlinson, 24, appeared to tear up and blew a kiss to the sky as the audience gave him a standing ovation.
Countless fans took to Twitter throughout the night to show their support for the singer with the hashtag #ProudOfLouis, which quickly became a worldwide trending topic. Several fans also claimed that One Direction members Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Harry Styles were spotted at SSE Arena, Wembley in London to cheer on Tomlinson at X Factor with a surprise reunion.
“I honestly am so happy that all the boys came to support Louis tonight, including Zayn,” one fan wrote, referencing Malik’s March 2015 departure from the band. Another fan wrote, “One Direction isn’t just a band. One Direction is a big family who support every single member no matter what!”
Olympic gold medalist Sam Quek shared a photo of herself with Styles, 22, backstage at X Factor.
— Samantha Quek (@SamanthaQuek) December 10, 2016
As fans know, One Direction finished in third place on season 7 of the British singing competition in 2010. They later became a worldwide success, winning numerous awards and becoming the first band in U.S. Billboard 200 history to have their first four albums debut at No. 1. The group announced an extended hiatus last year, but Us Weekly exclusively reported in January that the split would be permanent.
After the news of Tomlinson’s mother’s death broke, the members of One Direction took to social media to send their support. “Love you bro! All of your family is in my prayers,” Malik, 23, tweeted to Tomlinson on Friday, December 9. “Proud of your strength and know your mum is too.”
Tomlinson later broke his social media silence, writing on Twitter: “All the support has been incredible! Let’s do this [performance] together tonight.”