Stephen 'tWitch' Boss's Friends from 'DWTS' and 'SYTYCD' Honor Him: 'Forever the World's Dance Dad'

JoJo Siwa, Val and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Cheryl Burke, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe were among the pro dancers and dance judges who paid tribute to Boss following his sudden death

The Hollywood dance community is coming together to remember Stephen "tWitch" Boss following news of his sudden death.

The former Ellen DeGeneres Show DJ, who died by suicide at age 40, was remembered by his fellow professional dancers from So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars in statements to PEOPLE — and across social media — on Wednesday.

In a statement to PEOPLE, SYTYCD judge Mary Murphy remembered the first time she met Boss — and the way he went on to become "an inspiration to millions."

"I am so deeply saddened of the news of Twitch passing. My soul is crying and aches on a cellular level. I was a proud mama bear over Twitch. He was hungry, eager, and willing to do the work that would lift him in spirit and means," she said. "The first time I met Twitch there was something about him. I call it twinkle eye because his eyes shined so much. His smile lit up the stage every time he stepped foot on it! We were not easy on him the first time he auditioned, and told him to work hard and come back again."

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"The same thing happened the next year he auditioned — work hard and come back. That would have been the end for most people but he persevered and came back again," she continued. "He still had to fight for his life that third year with his solo. What I saw next was unlike any solo I had seen before. His music was a symphony that was playing and Twitch started to dance and show us all the instruments being used, but through his body. The musicality of it was mesmerizing and a defining moment in Twitch's dance career."

Stephen tWitch Boss
Stephen "tWitch" Boss. Getty

"Those are the moments that I cherish the most, when a dancer seems to be one with the universe, music, and choreography. Needless to say, I was crazy over it and from that moment on Twitch started to soar," she added. "I was so proud of him because I had a very small part in his big career. Twitch was an inspiration to millions with his work ethic and determination and showed many young children that no matter what your circumstances are you can make it if you work hard! Twitch I love you to the moon and back! I wrap his family Allison, Maddox, Zaria and Weslie with love and prayers. Dear Twitch RIP, the world will miss your shining light!"

SYTYCD creator and judge Nigel Lythgoe told PEOPLE in a statement: "I am heartbroken and devastated at the moment. I'm at a loss to understand how someone as loved and as inspirational to so many people as Stephen was can feel they are in such a dark place that they have no other choice but to end their life."

Lythgoe noted how Boss "always had that broad smile and a joy of life" and said "everyone who met him loved him."

Producer Nigel Lythgoe and Stephen ÒtWitchÓ Boss attend the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, SAG-AFTRA and Career Transitions for Dancers presents "Dancers Forum" with Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Adam Shankman, Kym Johnson, tWitch and more at SAG Foundation Actors Center on July 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Nigel Lythgoe and Stephen 'tWitch' Boss. Angela Weiss/Getty

"Mental health is a real issue that is often hidden from us," Lythgoe added. "The dance community will be reeling today but my deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, Allison and their children. It's important to recognize that mental health is a real problem and sometimes goes unnoticed in our loved ones. As we go into this happy time of the year for so many of us we must recognize that stress and dark emotions appear to be heightened in others."

JoJo Siwa, who served as a judge on SYTYCD beside Boss, expressed her sadness in a post on Instagram.

"My heart is beyond broken.💔😭 twitch was a best friend and a mentor not just to me but to SO many. I'll never forget our time getting to work together on SYTYCD, he became such a light in my life. Someone I've looked up to since I was born turned one of my best friends. Twitch always had the best advice. We had SO many laughs, smiles, and even cries together. I know you're in a better place now but man we are all gonna miss the hell outta you. Sending my most love and prayers to His beautiful wife and 3 perfect kids. ❤️ thank you for sharing your gift with the world. I'm 'so esssicted' to see you again one day (A inside joke between us that I will never let go of). Forever the worlds dance dad. Love you brother.🙏🏼 RIP the legendary Stephen Twitch Boss❤️"

JoJo Siwa, Stephen tWitch Boss
JoJo Siwa and Stephen "tWitch" Boss. FOX via Getty

Jenna Dewan added in her own tribute: "I am truly at a loss for words today… Twitch was the kindest, warmest, sweetest soul I had met in this business. He lifted everyone up around him. He made a point to check in on me and my family, because that was who he was- a truly good soul who cared deeply about others. He was a source of inspiration to not only the dance community but the world at large. He was beloved by literally everyone. My whole heart is with youAllison and your beautiful family.Rest In Peace Twitch 🙏🏻💔"

Dancing with the Stars pro Cheryl Burke also reacted on Instagram, sharing two photos with Boss. In her post, she remembered him "for being so joyful, inspirational, and for always putting a smile on my face."

"My heart breaks for @sir_twitch_alot, @allisonholker and their beautiful family. Twitch, thank you for representing the dance world with such positivity and grace but more importantly, as a human being," she wrote. "thank you for being so joyful, inspirational, and for always putting a smile on my face. May your soul rest in peace my friend. 💔"

Cheryl Burke and Stephen "tWitch" Boss
Cheryl Burke and Stephen "tWitch" Boss. Cheryl Burke/instagram

DWTS alum and judge Derek Hough addressed the news in a statement on his Instagram. "My heart is aching for @allisonholker and their beautiful family during this time. My mind is clinging to memories of the dear friend we have all lost," he wrote beside a photo of him next to Boss.

"When I think of twitch I think of Wisdom, Love, Light and Laughter. He brought joy to everyone he encountered and was an inspiration to all," Hough added. "It's gonna take some time to fully process this. May you rest in peace my friend. We love you 🙏🏼❤️"

SYTYCD alum and DWTS pro Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy shared a video of Boss dancing on Instagram and wrote beside it, "may you forever be dancing in heaven and wearing that smile that lit up the world💔"

Jenna's husband and DWTS pro, Val Chmerkovskiy penned a touching tribute on Instagram beside a video of Boss smiling.

"To a man that had touched so many with his beautiful spirit and infectious smile. Rest in peace my friend, I hope you finally found it," he wrote. "You were an example for me and so many of us trying to make our little fifteen minutes into a two hour special in this strange and at times brutal world of entertainment. You were the example not solely because of the success you had but the grace with which you carried it. You did it without stepping over anyone without switching up or selling out. You were kind, always thoughtful, and always kept it one hundred thousand. That's why as a community we loved you!"

"You were exactly the representation we wanted and we're proud to have. Always checking in when you saw I, or my family, was going through stuff always offered help, and sometimes gave it without even asking," he continued. "You will be dearly missed, you will be ferociously celebrated for years to come, and I just hope you knew how much you were loved before you went. The ones that smile the brightest may be the ones that hurt the most. I can't believe I'm writing this. #RIPStephenBoss #RIPtWitch"

Jenna Johnson Stephen "Twitch" Boss
Jenna Johnson's Instagram Story. Jenna Johnson/Instagram

Val's brother and DWTS alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy also shared a tribute on Instagram, in which he admitted, "I'm at a loss for words… I wrote few paragraphs and deleted everything because it's all so irrelevant right now."

"I have so much to say, but I just want to hold on to the memories I have and not try to wrap my head around this," he added. "Stephen 'Twitch' Boss was the only man I've met in the entire industry who was loved by absolutely everyone. This makes no sense at all…. Rest easy my friend.💔"

SYTYCD finalist and DWTS pro Koko Iwasaki said she had been "trying to process and find the words, but I can't" in an emotional post on her Instagram Story.

"Twitch was the light in every room he walked into. I would watch him go out of his way to say hi to every single person and his kindness was immeasurable. His heart was made of pure gold and he just had that ability to make everyone feel special," she continued. "The world hurts today and I will miss you dearly. Rest in peace Twitch. I am praying for you, Allison, your babies and the family."

koko iwasaki's insta story tribute to Twitch
Koko Iwasaki's Instagram Story. FOX via Getty, Koine Iwasaki/Instagram

Fellow DWTS pro Daniella Karagach shared the news on her Instagram Story, writing, "In complete disbelief. My heart breaks for his family and loved ones. RIP twitch."

In a post on her Instagram Story, DWTS pro Sharna Burgess spoke about the importance of getting help when "struggling with mental health difficulties."

"There just aren't the right words for this mornings [sic] heartbreaking news. No amount of thoughts and prayers can make it better. Our dance community just lost one of its brightest lights 💔 a woman lost her soul mate [sic], and babies lost their Daddy. Heaven, however, gained an angel. A Boss one at that."

shana burgess
Sharna Burgess' Instagram Story. shana burgess/instagram

"If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health difficulties of any kind please know you are not alone and help is right there waiting for you. A phone call away," she continued, before sharing the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Burgess added: "Reaching out is often the hardest part. That initial decision to ask for help seems so difficult especially for men... If you feel you can take that first difficult step please do. Tell someone how much your [sic] hurting. Because you are so loved and so wanted and so needed even if you can't see it. And you are not alone."

Fellow DWTS pro Alan Bersten wrote of the news on his Instagram Story: "Absolutely heartbreaking. Not only a legend in the dance world, but the entire world knew his name. RIP"

Witney Carson, another DWTS pro, also addressed the news on her Instagram Story. "RIP my friend. Sending so much love and healing to @allisonholker and kids. There are no words. We love you"

shana burgess
Sharna Burgess' Instagram Story. shana burgess/instagram

Added fellow DWTS pro Lindsay Arnold: "My heart is hurting hearing this news. Absolutely devastating. My prayers and love go out to @allisonholker and the entire Boss family."

She went on to share a clip of Boss dancing, where she noted how she will "never forget the first time I saw Stephen dance on SYTYCD." She added, "Not only did he light up the world with his incredible dance talents but with his genuine kindness always. He was the kindest person and I always looked up to him and the fact that through all of his success he stayed humble, kind, genuine, and was truly a one of a kind incredible human."

Arnold also shared a video, in which she reminded her followers that "we don't always know what somebody is going through" and to "spread love [and] be kind to others."

DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba penned a lengthy tribute to Boss on Instagram, where she remembered the dancer as a "beautiful soul" and "one of the things that always seemed right in this world."

"He was a special one. A good man, a husband, an artist, a dancer, an entertainer, a bright light…He was extraordinary," she wrote, in part. "He could do anything and he did it with a joy and grace and some swagger."

"Thank you for being a man who led with grace. A cool presence in a world full of tightly wound up folks…and unfulfilled artists pursuing their dreams," she continued. "I know that I am not alone when I say that you gave me so much hope. You were one of the things that always seemed right in this world."

"You will be missed. 💔And I'm so sad I won't get to see your future unfold as it should have, opening more and more doors for others in your wake. But I can say with certainty, you made this world a better place," Inaba added. "That smile.That grace.That style. That immense being that is and always will be your spirit. May you soar and rest in peace and power."

Stephen tWitch Boss
Stephen "tWitch" Boss. Getty

SYTYCD alum Tiffany Maher said her "heart was broken" over the news of Boss' death in a statement to PEOPLE. "Stephen 'Twitch' was a bright light. He had such a kind and inspirational soul. I feel so fortunate to have known him. He will forever be remembered and deeply missed. Sending love and prayers to Allison and their children," Maher said.

Chelsie Hightower also honored Boss, who she referred to as a "big brother to me" in a statement to PEOPLE: "I'm still processing all of this... but in a few words, It doesn't take long being in his presence to understand what a great man he is and to feel the genuine love, care and warmth he shares with everyone around him. There will be many of us wishing we knew if there was anything we could've done. He will be so missed by so many. When we were on SYTYCD together he was like a big brother to me. Always looking out for and encouraging me. Even years later as our paths crossed, he continued still. I'm not an exception, that's just the type of man he was."

SYTYCD winner Bailey Muñoz shared a photo on Instagram with Boss and wrote beside it, "My heart is broken…💔 I'm still trying to process this. my condolences & prayers to Allison and his family. 'Love you unc'"

In his statement to PEOPLE, SYTYCD alum Dmitry Chaplin said: "I am at a complete loss for words. My heart goes out to Allison and her family, since their loss is even more tragic than ours! I first met Twitch on SYTYCD when he was a contestant; he was always one of the most modest, friendly, and fun individuals I've ever met. He truly loved the art of dancing and was instrumental in bringing it to the attention of newer generations through television. He will forever be remembered as a friend, a gifted performer, and a kind person."

Alex Wong, another member of the SYTYCD community, told PEOPLE in a statement that he was "just so shocked," adding, "I wish it wasn't true. Stephen was so loved and always so positive. I can't even wrap my head around this. My heart goes out to Allison and their family."

SYTYCD choreographer Sonya Tayeh added in a statement to PEOPLE: "Blessed beyond belief to be in the presence of Twitch (I called him Twizzle). The gift he gave to our beloved dance community is boundless. Watching him dance was like watching a marvel of the craft grace us. He will be forever in our cells."

Fellow choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha (Nappytabs) told PEOPLE in a joint statement: "Our hearts are broken over losing Twitch. He was not only a dear friend but such a wonderful human being. Always the brightest light on the stage, the biggest heart in the room and kindest spirit to all. Every time we got the opportunity to create with you it was a privilege and a gift. We made so many special memories together over the years my friend and we will hold those memories close to our hearts forever."

Stephen "Twitch" Boss
Stephen 'tWitch' Boss and his wife Allison. Momodu Mansaray/Getty

Boss' wife, Allison Holker Boss, confirmed the So You Think You Can Dance judge's death on Wednesday in an emotional statement with PEOPLE.

"Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans," Allison, 34, said. "To say he left a legacy would be an understatement, and his positive impact will continue to be felt. I am certain there won't be a day that goes by that we won't honor his memory."

Allison concluded her statement with a message for her husband: "Stephen, we love you, we miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you."

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Boss was best known for being a DJ and co-executive producer on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. But he also made a name for himself on So You Think You Can Dance as a contestant and later a judge when the series returned in 2022.

He is survived by his wife Allison as well as children Zaia, 3, Maddox, 6, and Weslie, 14.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to

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