Nikki McKibbin, 'American Idol' Alum, Dies at 42

Nikki McKibbin during "American Idol" Season 1 Finale
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

'American Idol' alum Justin Guarini, who competed alongside McKibbin on the singing competition, paid tribute on Instagram to the singer who he described as a "fiery, funny lady who  could sing the Hell out of a rock song."

Nikki McKibbin, a singer best known for placing third during the first season of American Idol, has died. She was 42.

American Idol alum Justin Guarini, who competed alongside McKibbin on the singing competition, paid tribute on Instagram to the singer who he described as a "fiery, funny lady who  could sing the Hell out of a rock song with the same kind of ease and command she lovingly used to cut you with her twangy Southern wit."

"Even in our 20’s when we were on American Idol together I could tell that she’d had a challenging life, and that not that many people had been kind to her along the way," he wrote. "But I’ll never forget the day that her idol, Stevie Nicks, sent her flowers with a card that said 'You are the Gypsy that I was...'. Nikki was on cloud nine and the joy and excitement that radiated from her was infectious. After the kind of emotional beating she took at the hands of the masses, she deserved to feel good about herself, even for a little while."

Guarini ended his note by telling the singer to "rest well" and thanked her "for the laughter, merciless teasing, strength, vulnerability, love and friendship" she showed him.

McKibbin died of a brain aneurysm and was in the hospital on life support, according to Redeye Radio Host Gary McNamara.

He tweeted Saturday: "I witnessed my friend Nikki (McKibbin) Sadler go from a Karaoke bar to finalist on 1st year of American Idol. She is on life support after suffering an aneurysm. They will end life support tonight. Please pray for her husband Craig and family. I am heartbroken."

McKibbin competed on American Idol in 2002 and placed third behind Guarini and winner Kelly Clarkson. She gained popularity after performing her take on classics from artists such as Alanis Morissette, Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin. She also famously sang a rendition of Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet."

"Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing. She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends during this difficult time," a statement read on American Idol's social media channels.

Longtime Idol host Ryan Seacrest also paid tribute to McKibbin: "Nikki was a superstar the moment she walked into auditions - she set the bar high with her talent and memorable stage presence. It was an honor to watch her grow and inspire millions of people. Our hearts go out to her family, friends, and fans who are grieving this tragic loss," he wrote. 

After competing on American Idol, McKibbin went on to appear in other reality shows including Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab, Fear Factor, Bravo's Battle of the Network Reality Stars and Sober House.

She returned to American Idol in 2014 when her then 15-year-old son, Tristan Langley, auditioned in front of judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban.

Nov. 1, 2:25 p.m. Updated with statements from American Idol and Ryan Seacrest.