Tyra Banks Cries While Honoring Jeannie Mai After Her DWTS Exit: 'We're All Emotional'
During Monday's episode, Banks — the host of the ABC competition series — fought back tears while bidding farewell to The Real cohost, who was forced to withdraw from the show after being diagnosed with epiglottitis, which required immediate surgery.
"Jeannie, we are glad that everything went well and that you are on your way to a speedy recover," an emotional Banks, 46, said after the show aired a heartfelt video package in Mai's honor. "As you see, I'm emotional, we're all emotional in here. We know that this means so much to you."
"I remember after the show, seeing you in the hallway, and just your love and passion for this and Brandon's love and passion for this," Banks continued. "Just know you are still apart of this family 'til the final episode of this season."
Mai, 41, opened up about the procedure in footage that was recorded in her hospital room, where she admitted that she was "absolutely devastated that my journey on Dancing with the Stars has to end this way."
After the surgery, Mai was told that "everything went great" while some alarming news was also disclosed to her in the hospital. "If you had waited one more day, your throat would have closed up," said a medical professional.
"I'm just so thankful I had the experience on Dancing with the Stars. It was hands down one of the best journeys of my life, so thank you so much and I love you guys," said Mai at the end of the video.
Later Monday evening, Mai also announced that she was out of surgery on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself from her hospital bed.
"I will be forever grateful to Dr. Nasseri who identified my potentially life-threatening condition," she said. "What simply started as a sore throat had unbeknownst to me become a dangerous infection that already closed at least 60% of my airway and resulted in a throat abscess that spread in a matter of 3 days."
While thankful that the condition was caught in time, Mai admitted that she is "devastated" she had to end her time on DWTS early. "Although I am grateful to be recovering safely, I can't lie... I am devastated by the fact that my journey with #DWTS will end this way 🥺😞," she wrote. "Dancing on this show has been the most exhilarating adventure. I've gained both beautiful friendships and loving supporters."
After giving a sweet shoutout to her pro partner, Brandon Armstrong, Mai encouraged her fans to vote for the remaining teams still competing for the Mirrorball trophy.
"And more good news? My thumbs still work hunnay, so I can spread my 20 votes across these final 8 superstar teams!!! Please everyone, TONIGHT watch for your fave #DWTS couple killen it in the ballroom cuz #TeamDreamofJeannie, we gotta share our love and VOTE!!!"
Mai confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE earlier on Monday that she and Armstrong, would not be continuing on the show this season following her diagnosis with epiglottitis, "a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis — a small cartilage 'lid' that covers your windpipe — swells, blocking the flow of air into your lung," according to the Mayo Clinic
"I am heartbroken that my DWTS journey has to end here," she in the statement. "The last several weeks have been an amazing learning experience. I have pushed myself to new limits physically and mentally, and I am so proud of how far we’ve come. I can't thank my partner Brandon enough for being so supportive and believing in me. I also want to thank MAI fans who voted every week and I wish everyone else in the competition the best of luck!"
Remaining in the competition is Backstreet Boys' AJ McLean, Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, rapper Nelly, actress Justina Machado, Catfish host Nev Schulman, Disney Channel star Skai Jackson, and The Bachelorette's Kaitlyn Bristowe. Selling Sunset's Chrishell Stause was eliminated Monday night.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.