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“I love music and I’ve got rhythm. All they needed was to have someone like me to show them how to use that rhythm,” Chong said about his run on the dance reality show. “I love dancing. I loved learning all the dances. You can’t name one dance where I would say I hated it. There’s a lot of dances that were difficult, but the dance world is so special. If you look at the feet, you can’t tell how old people are.”
The oldest contestant ever to compete in DWTS semifinals, Chong surprised audiences in week nine and was saved from elimination despite viewers expecting him to go home early on. When Chong confirmed his participation in season 19, he hoped to be partnered with Peta Murgatroyd, a wish that became a reality and developed into a friendship between the pair.
“I would definitely say [Tommy’s] one of my proudest accomplishments on this show,” Murgatroyd said. When asked what the professional dancer will miss most about working with Chong this season, she mentioned moments off the dance floor: “Our lunch breaks and what we talk about: life and relationships. He’s the best advisor for everything. I go to Tommy to get advice.”
Though Chong’s DWTS experience has come to a close, the veteran entertainer vows to continue dancing.
Alfonso Ribeiro, the last remaining male contestant competing for a spot in the finale following Chong’s departure, suffered a back injury while learning week 10’s “Plugged/Unplugged Night” dances. “You know when you hurt your back and you can’t really breathe? Yeah, I’m right there again,” Ribeiro said of his injury, adding, “It’s so hard because I can’t even pick up my kid. The only time I really get to cuddle with him is when lying down in bed and he can crawl on me a little bit.”
As of last Wednesday evening, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star thought there was no chance of him performing on this week’s show, but with endurance and numerous doctor visits was able to compete. “I saw a lot of great doctors, and we had a team of people working on me literally every day. We had a doctor that was in rehearsal with us the entire time and every time we’d take a break, I’d go lay on the table and he’d adjust me and got the spasms to go away.”
Despite Ribeiro’s back injury, he assures audiences that he is pushing through the pain to compete for a place in next Tuesday night’s season finale. “We’re in this to try and win it, so I will do what I have to do and I will deal with whatever I have to deal with to try to win this,” Ribeiro said. “I’m the last dude here, but we want to be in the finale, so we’re going to do everything we can to get there.”
Tune in to ABC next Monday at 8 p.m. to see which three celebrities advance to Tuesday evening’s season finale.
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