It was an emotional night of competition on Week 4 of “Dancing With the Stars,” as each celebrity contestant celebrated the most memorable year in their lives. It’s a night that historically has found many a contestant, judge and audience member brought to tears.
Tonight was no exception.
Mr. T and his pro partner Kym Herjavec were emotional throughout their week of rehearsals as their pre-dance video package revealed.
“My most memorable year was 1995,” Mr. T said. “That’s the year I was diagnosed with cancer. I had money, cars. I had achieved what I wanted to achieve. But there was this little pimple on my ear and the doctor says, you have a rare form of cancer. … I called on God and I asked God to give me strength ‘to do your will.’ We did radiation, [but] six months later it was back it had metastasized. So it was on to chemotherapy. You get dizzy. You get nauseous.
“I started asking myself, what’s really real? [Answer] My faith in God, because only God can save me. … It’s easy to say you love God. But my faith was tested and I passed the test, I think. God has blessed me. I’ve been 22 years cancer-free. … I can inspire other people. That’s what I feel my mission is.”
Mr. T and Kym danced to a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace,” a song the former pro-wrestler revealed he would always hear in his mother’s house.”
For his performance, the judges turned in some emotional commentary. “Some people might be winning the race with fancy moves, but you are winning our hearts, said Carrie Ann Inaba. “Your faith radiated out of you in that dance.”
“Love and respect; you really are a good man, a man with a heart of gold,” said judge Bruno Tonioli. “Your faith inspires all of us. Millions watching are inspired by [who] you are.”
His score: 28 out of 40. In the end, it wasn’t enough to carry Mr. T on to next week’s episode, as he was eliminated from the competition at the end of the night. He took it all in stride and graciously said, “It was a great experience. I enjoyed myself.”
To no one’s surprise, retired Cubs Catcher David Ross selected 2016 as his most memorable year, thanks to the Cubs World Series Championship.
In his pre-dance video package, Ross explained: “I knew it was my last year of playing baseball. Before the season I knew I was retiring, but I had no idea how the season would play out. It turned out to be an epic year. I hit my 100th home run, caught a no-hitter. … But getting carried off the field in game seven. That was nothing I had dreamed of in my wildest dreams.”
Amid all the season’s excitement, Ross said his family was always first and foremost on his mind.
“You want to be a good dad, and you want to be there [for your kids],” Ross said. “That’s the hardest part about baseball; you just can’t be there. Well, I’ve gotten to live my dream job and now [that dream job] is to be a dad so my kids can live out their dreams.”
Ross’ teammate Anthony Rizzo dropped in during rehearsal week to give Ross and his partner Lindsay Arnold a few pointers on the Viennese Waltz, which the duo danced to “Forever Young” by Youth Group.
“He’s taught me so much on and off the field,” Rizzo said. “I feel like he’s my dad, my brother.”
— David Ross (@D_Ross3) April 10, 2017
“I gave all I could to the 2016 Cubs,” Ross told Lindsay. “But my kids need me more and more every day. I have the rest of my life to live and be with them. That’s the most important job.”
The judges, though they liked the duo’s performance for the most part, offered up some helpful tips.
“You still have the vitality of a spring chicken,” Bruno beamed. Julianne praised them saying “I love this team!.” But she also pointed out their waltz was too hoppy. Carrie Ann commented: “You were very uplifting. You’re everyman’s man. You make everyone feel they can dance. But you were skipping and hopping and it lost a little control. It was like, ‘He’s running for home!”
His score: 31 out of 40.
Another surprise came from co-host Erin Andrews who informed Ross that the rain delay at Wrigley Field afforded the Cubs the opportunity to broadcast the dance on the park’s Jumbotron, so all of Wrigley and Cubs nation could watch.
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) April 11, 2017
Andrews tweeted that Ross was busy watching the festivities at Wrigley earlier in the evening:
— Erin Andrews (@ErinAndrews) April 11, 2017
NFL football was also represented well on tonight’s competition. Rashad Jennings scored the first “10s” of the season (three out of four to be exact) for his gorgeous contemporary routine with pro partner Emma Slater. The ballroom went crazy with applause and cheers during an extended standing ovation. The judges were almost rendered speechless. Only Judge Len Goodman did not score Rashad a 10, turning over his “9” paddle much to the dismay of the rest of the judging panel.
The dance, performed to Katy Perry’s “Unconditional,” was dedicated to Rashad’s handicapped father, who was in the audience. Years of drinking, smoking and diabetes resulted in his father having to undergo the amputation of both of his legs. It was a hugely emotional moment as Rashad ran over and hugged his weeping father in the first row of the audience following the performance. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Rashad’s score: 39 out of 40.
— E! News (@enews) April 11, 2017
Other highlights from the night:
Normani Kordei and partner Val Chmerkovskiy kicked things off with a very sexy rhumba danced to the Shontelle hit “Impossible,” but performed on this night by Kordei’s Fifth Harmony partners. In her pre-dance video package, Kordei paid tribute to her parents who sacrificed a lot to help her achieve her dream. “My dream when I was a kid was to be Beyonce,” Kordei revealed. “My family stopped their lives for me. My mom quit her job so she could travel with me to auditions. My dad worked two jobs.”
Judge Len Goodman praised her performance saying, “You are a terrific dancer. You’ve got grace, charimatic personality, and my eyes are drawn to you.” Kordei’s score: 32 out of 40
“Bachelor” Nick Viall and his partner Peta Murgatroyd also danced a rhumba to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” and celebrating 2016, the year Viall finally found love on “The Bachelor.” In his pre-dance video package, Viall described the experience: “I went through a lot of heartbreak. … Then I met Vanessa and found love,” he said. “When I as first asked to be the Bachelor, my first reaction was I don’t think I can do it. I was almost giving up on the things I wanted most in life.”
Judges Julianne Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba and Len called it Nick’s best dance so far. Bruno Tonioli remarked: “I felt something new stirring inside of you tonight. We all felt it.” The dance ended with Nick plucking his fiancee Vanessa Grimaldi from the audience for the final moves of the routine. His score: 30 out of 40.
A hugely emotional Nancy Kerrigan danced a gorgeous foxtrot with her partner Artem Chigvinstev to Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish.” Her pre-dance video package found the Olympic skater revealing she had had six miscarriages over the course of achieving the family she always wanted with husband Jerry Solomon.
“Since I was 10 I knew I wanted to have three kids by the time I was 30,” Kerrigan said. “I had my first kid, Matthew, and then I miscarried. And it was pretty awful. You feel guilty, like what did you do wrong? It makes you feel like a failure.”
Kerrigan completely broke down when she talked about the six miscarriages: “It almost felt shameful. We had a good life, but I had that vision in my head since I was a kid.” Happily, she and Solomon went on to have two more children, a boy and a girl, through in vitro fertilization.
The judges praised her dancing and her courage. Judge Bruno remarked: “You danced for what you believe in.” Carrie Ann added: “You really touched me. [You’re] inspiring.” Len Goodman said: “You’ve moved out from the pack into a front-runner for me.” Her score: 33 out of 40