Ray Lewis is withdrawing from the show on the third week of competition

By Natalie Stone
September 30, 2019 09:33 PM
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Ray Lewis is leaving Dancing with the Stars.

During the third week of the reality dance competition series, the NFL legend announced that he was dropping out due to a foot injury.

While training for his cha-cha with pro dancer Cheryl Burke, Lewis re-injured his foot.

“In a game in 2010, I tore a tendon in my foot. And now, all of this dancing, all of this on your toes, I’m reliving a problem that I thought I’d never have to live again,” he said in his video package. “I am having so much fun when it comes to the dancing part. But the part behind the scenes, it’s just been painful. It’s bothered me a lot.”

“I dealt with pain every practice,” said an emotional Lewis, 44. “I pushed through anything. But when he read the MRI to me today, I knew something was wrong.”

The doctor was then recorded telling Lewis, “You tore three tendons. It’s going to require surgery.”

The doctor added, “You keep dancing on it, it’s going to actually rupture.”

Following his doctor visit, Lewis explained to Burke that he’s “got multiple tears in it.”

“His next words was: ‘You gotta let it go. You cannot do this.’ I gotta leave the competition,” a disappointed Lewis said. “This is probably one of the hardest decisions of my life. But right now, I gotta make sure that I don’t damage something enough to where I can’t walk.”

Eric McCandless via Getty

Reflecting on his short time on DWTS, Lewis said that he’s “had some of the best experiences of my life on this show. I’ve met an entirely new family and I have experienced what I’ve always wanted to experience: what dancing on the stage, what Dancing with the Stars felt like.”

“It was absolutely incredible. I’ll never forget this,” he said.

Although the former pro athlete couldn’t compete because of his injury, a familiar face stepped in to dance the cha-cha with Burke: NFL star and DWTS season 24 Mirrorball Trophy champion Rashad Jennings!

Rashad Jennings
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Lewis, who was saved from elimination last week, is the second celebrity contestant to withdraw from season 28 due to an injury.

Ahead of the show’s premiere on Sept. 16, ABC announced that Christie Brinkley‘s youngest daughter Sailor would be taking her place on the popular dancing competition after Christie fell and broke her arm during rehearsals days prior.

Showbiz is all about getting a break, and Sailor and I both got one on Dancing with the Stars this season,” Christie said in a statement to Good Morning America, joking about her injury. “Sailor joined the cast when I got mine … ouch somebody stop me, it hurts to laugh!”

GMA tweeted out footage of Christie’s fall. In the clip, she appeared to trip over her partner’s foot during a turn, sending her tumbling to the ground.

BBC Studios and ABC said in a statement to PEOPLE that Christie “suffered injuries which required surgery to her wrist and arm.”

“We wish Christie a full and speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her in the audience, whenever possible, proudly supporting Sailor,” the statement continued.

Sailor later recounted the emotional moment her mom told her about the injury.

“Getting that call from my mom when I was still out in the Hamptons. She was sobbing, crying, she was so disappointed that she couldn’t do it anymore,” Sailor told Entertainment Tonight.

“She wasn’t even crying because she was hurt. She was like, ‘I’m gonna let down Val [Chmerkovskiy] and I’m not gonna be able to keep going with Dancing with the Stars.’ And I was like, ‘No mom,’ and I had to comfort her in that and be like, ‘But you had your experience just let that go, you know you had such a great time. No one is disappointed in you,’” said Sailor.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.