Melissa Rycroft rose above her injury on Monday night as she performed flawlessly during the cheerleader-inspired group freestyle on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.”
The former “Bachelor” star suffered a herniated disc during rehearsal on Sunday when — as viewers saw in footage that aired Monday — her neck was tweaked when her sneaker stuck to the ballroom floor. She got medical attention and her dance future was very much in doubt. But after Melissa was given the thumbs’ up from doctors, she dazzled on the floor again with partner Tony Dovolani.
On Sunday, “We didn’t have clearance to dance,” Melissa told reporters after Monday’s show. “Today, we just were happy to be able to get out there. I told Tony, ‘I’m going to go out and do it. If something happens, I’m going to squeeze your hand and that’s your sign to know that something’s going wrong.
“It’s All-Stars. I don’t want to go home.”
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But Melissa came close to having to do so. “What I was told was it wasn’t an option to sit out one night. If I didn’t get clearance, it meant that the injury was severe enough that they weren’t going to let me come back into the competition.
“It’s been an emotional couple of days, to say the least!”
Tony was even more worried. “My first reaction was [about] her safety,” he said. “In fact, I was the one who asked for the ambulance to come in [during practice] because you don’t mess around with necks. In the end, this is just a dance competition. For me, Melissa has become a close friend so her safety was my number one concern. I just wanted her to be okay.”
Watch Melissa’s Amazing Recovery in Time for the Team Dance:
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The longtime “DWTS” pro added of Melissa, who has a daughter with husband Tye Strickland, “The first thought that crossed my mind was, ‘is she ever going to be able to pick up her baby again?’ and I was the one she was dancing with so that guilt kills you. [But] she’s okay and I’m happy!”
Melissa told xfinityTV that they both recalled the rib injury she sustained in Season 8 that caused her to be judged on rehearsal footage for one performance night. “Believe me, the irony did not pass us. I went, really? Because they actually brought in a member of the dance troupe to do the team number for me.” Luckily, it wasn’t necessary and Melissa is back in the ballroom where she belongs. She and Tony are set to perform a tango on Tuesday night.