McCreery, 17, also is a member of First Baptist Church in Garner, N.C., a Southern Baptist congregation where he has been active in the church's youth group.
A Charlotte Observer article portrayed McCreery as a "boy next door," patiently ringing up customers as a high school cashier at the Lowes Foods in Garner. He had become a contestant on the popular show, but he hadn't told many people in his hometown. People started noticing him around February.
"Once they realized who he was, they all went to his register," the store manager said, adding that four checkout lines were empty and McCreery's line stretched 30 customers deep, to the back of the store.
McCreery was a high school baseball player, but his participation in American Idol caused him to miss this year's baseball season, where he probably would have been pitching, The Observer said.
He was required to live in Los Angeles during most of the taping of the show, and because he is a minor his mother was with him most of the time. Both were homesick, the newspaper said.
In the eighth grade, McCreery wrote a biography of himself for a class assignment. "My philosophy of life is simple. Please God, work, provide for your family and help others," he wrote.
Throughout the filming of American Idol, McCreery wore a black "I Am Second" bracelet on his right wrist, showing his support for a movement that chronicles the personal stories of struggle and transformation of celebrities and everyday people. The stories are intended "to give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled," according to iamsecond.com.
"Those who are featured on the site (called 'Seconds') graciously lend their names and stories to be shared so that others might be inspired to find the same freedom and sense of purpose they have found in Jesus," the website explains. "While some of the 'Seconds' may be well-known for their jobs or achievements, others are just local believers who transparently tell of overcoming struggles through Jesus."
Compiled by Erin Roach, assistant editor of Baptist Press.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net