| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Ward reaches 'Dancing With the Stars' perfection

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Kevin Gorman podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson recovered from an injury scare to deliver dancing that brought them to tears, the "Dancing With the Stars" studio audience to its feet and the show's judges to award perfect 10s.

Not once, but twice.

The Steelers' star wide receiver and his partner executed the Argentine tango and the salsa and received top scores in an emotionally gripping moment Monday night in the semifinal round of ABC's ballroom dance reality show.

Ward and Johnson scored a unanimous victory over Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff in a winner-takes-all cha-cha dance-off. Judges, however, gave a decided edge in the first-ever instant challenge, to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance," to Disney star Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas, who earned 15 bonus points for a 73-60 edge in total points over Ward and Johnson. The Mirror Ball Trophy winners will be determined next Monday in the season finale.

The performance of Ward and Johnson was most impressive, considering she was rushed to the hospital Friday after injuring her neck when Ward landed on her during rehearsals.

"Praise to God, she's still walking," Ward said.

"I didn't really want to dance," Johnson admitted.

"She's a warrior," Ward added.

Johnson said reaching the semifinals with Ward caused her to switch strategy, "doing leaps I've never done before or seen done on 'Dancing with the Stars.' It's pretty scary, but I think it will be worth it." But after landing awkwardly on her neck, video showed her whispering to Ward, "I can't feel my arms."

"I was supposed to swing her through my legs and lift her up, but all my weight just came down on the back of her neck," Ward said. "For me, I'm sick because that was one of my biggest things: I didn't want to drop her."

They recovered to pull off a perfect Argentine tango that prompted host Tom Bergeron to say, "That's a long way from Friday, my friends." Ward and Johnson wiped tears from their eyes in what Bergeron called "clearly an emotional dance for our dancers and some of our judges, as well."

Judge Len Goodman compared their legwork to something from the Kama Sutra, while Bruno Tonioli said, "You never want it to end." Carrie Ann Inaba was impressed with Ward's partnering, calling their connection one that went beyond what was asked for in a dance routine.

"I'm just happy you're OK," Inaba said, "because that was a serious injury."

The show featured interviews with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, team president Art Rooney II and All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, along with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and retired running back Jerome Bettis, giving testimonials about the Super Bowl XL Most Valuable Player.

"I'm very impressed that Hines has made it to the semifinals," Rooney said. "He's very determined to win this thing, so I wouldn't count him out."

Just like he has done his whole career, Ward had to overcome doubters on the dance show -- including his mother, who gave him little chance to win.

"I'm shocked, really," Kim Young-hee said. "I tell him, 'You don't know nothing about the dancing. Maybe you go one week. You're going to fail.'"

Such skepticism only serves as motivation for Ward, said Cowher.

"Hines Ward's determination is based on, 'Tell me I can't do something and I'll show you that not only will I do it, I'll be the best there was at it.'"

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  2. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  3. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  4. Steelers notebook: Tomlin says Latrobe session won’t differ from normal practice
  5. Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
  6. Memories of Steelers fan from Beaver Falls go beyond simple recall
  7. Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
  8. Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
  9. Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
  10. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  11. Steelers unfazed by Patriots quarterback Brady suspension saga