Hines Ward wins 'Dancing With the Stars'

| Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LOS ANGELES — Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has proven to America — and himself — that he can dance.

Channeling the chemistry that he and partner Kym Johnson have had all season on "Dancing With the Stars," Ward turned in another virtuoso performance Tuesday night and later raised the Mirror Ball Trophy.

Ward became just the second current or former NFL star to win "DWTS," as he and Johnson scored a 30 out of 30 in the samba, their final dance on the popular ABC dancing competition show.

All three finalists notched perfect scores last night. Ward punctuated his dance by waving a gold cloth after he had dipped Johnson onto a bended knee.

The fan vote, which accounts for half of the scoring, propelled him past runner-up Kirstie Alley and Chelsea Kane in the 12th season of "DWTS" although final numbers were not given.

But there is little doubt that the voting component of the competition left the four-time Pro Bowler celebrating as confetti fluttered around him and Johnson.

"I'm a firm believer that anything's possible if you put your mind to it," said Ward, who joined Emmitt Smith, theNFL's all-time leading rusher, in winning "DWTS."

"My whole life has been (people) saying what I can't do. It's seems like year in and year out I've been proving people wrong. Nobody gave me credit, didn't think I'd last this long. I owe it all to Kym."

Their journey started in early March when Ward signed on for "DWTS," in part to help him get over the sting of the Steelers' 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV earlier this year.

They practiced for six hours a day, five days a week, and their diligence paid off as the "DWTS" judges, fans and TV cameras all fell hard for the Steelers' all-time leading receiver and the Aussie professional dancer.

Ward and Johnson consistently scored among the highest couples since the show's premiere on March 21, and their victory came as little surprise to most though not all people.

"Nobody even thought he had an ounce of talent as far as dancing goes," said Steelers linebacker James Farrior, who was in the audience for the finals, "but he really proved us wrong."

That supposed lack of talent may be an overstatement but not by much.

"It's not easy because Hines doesn't have a dance background, and as he said to me he didn't even go to his prom when he was in high school," said former Steelers great Lynn Swann, whose devotion to ballet helped him make spectacular catches in the 1970s seem routine. "He doesn't even dance when he goes to clubs. So to come out here and have that fear of dancing and to overcome it was tremendous. And to learn all those dances and to perform that proficiently• That's not that easy."

Ward just made it look that way.

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