The outgoing contestant says he admires his pro partner's work ethic

By Dahvi Shira
Updated May 02, 2012 11:50 AM

Jaleel White and his Dancing with the Stars partner Kym Johnson may have gone through behind-the-scenes drama during their time on the show, but White says he has always respected the ballroom pro.

“Kim works hard,” the actor, 35, told reporters backstage Tuesday night after he and Johnson were eliminated. “Every time I was going home to go to sleep, she was going off to choreograph. She’d be coming up with some dance. We’d be rolling up out of here, and she’d be going back to work.”

In fact, White liked to bring his daughter Samaya, 2½, to rehearsals to show her an example of hard work.

“I really respect her work ethic, and I really enjoyed having my daughter around [Kym],” he said. “I always want to bring my daughter to work, so she can see that it’s work. We’re not playing a game.”

As for having any regrets about his time on the hit ABC show, White tells PEOPLE, “That’s one I gotta think about. I need champagne before I can answer that.”