“Dancing with the Stars” can be hazardous to your health. People don’t generally think of the show as a dangerous sport, but it’s an undoubtedly athletic pursuit, and as many athletes know, injuries are bound to happen. Scroll down to see all the celebs who had to leave the ballroom abruptly because they got hurt or sick, and one who exited the show for personal reasons.
To compete on “DWTS,” celebrities have to train with their pro partners to learn brand new routines every single week. And if they last long enough in the competition they eventually have to learn two or three dances per week, including group routines. And if they’re really lucky, they get the opportunity to perform a no-holds-barred freestyle routine that’s usually their most demanding performance of the season. It’s tough for amateur dancers to learn a bunch of new steps, but to do so under such time constraints every single week is bound to strain the body.
So it’s no wonder that trained athletes have done especially well in the ballroom, including football players Emmitt Smith and Rashad Jennings, figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis, and gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Laurie Hernandez, all of whom won Mirror Ball Trophies.
But this competition is so tough that even elite athletes have found themselves on the disabled list for tears and fractures before they could finish. A few celebs found themselves injured before their seasons even began, which required last-minute replacements. A couple were felled by sudden illness. And one stepped aside to focus on her family as she was in the midst of a divorce. It’s a testament to how far they pushed themselves on the show, but you’ve got to listen to your body so you can live to dance another day.
Why She Quit: Sometime before the premiere, she suffered injuries to her wrist and arm that required emergency surgery. As a result, her daughter Sailor Brinkley-Cook stepped in her place for the season.
Why He Quit: In week three of the competition, he had to quit the show because an old tendon injury started flaring up again.
Why She Quit: She withdrew about three weeks into the competition due to a transient ischemic attack, which prevented her from air travel and left her unable to return to the show to compete.
Why She Quit: While she almost missed a performance after being rushed to the hospital before the November 9 show, Braxton was able to make it in time to avoid a disqualification. But the next day, “The Real” co-host and singer revealed on Instagram that she was withdrawing from the competition after discovering pulmonary embolisms in her lungs. “With a heavy heart I regret to inform you that my season of #dwts has to come to an end along with the rest of my tour dates with @musicbykem,” she wrote.
Billy Dee Williams
Why He Quit: The “Star Wars” fan-favorite exited season 18 due to a chronic back problem.
Why She Quit: After two dances the Olympic figure skater left the competition in season 16 due to a back injury.
Why He Quit: The U.S. House majority leader suffered a stress fracture in his foot in the weeks leading up to the beginning of season nine. While he was able to compete on the show for a few weeks, the injury got worse and he suffered a fracture in his other foot too, so DeLay announced he was leaving the show.
Why She Quit: She withdrew just before the season began after tearing her meniscus, which required surgery. Filling in for her was “The Bachelor” alum Melissa Rycroft, who finished third for the season and would later go on to win the special All-Stars edition in season 15.
Why She Quit: She fractured her tibias just before the season began, with Holly Madison taking her spot. Jewel’s then-husband Ty Murray was also competing that season and went ahead without her, finishing fourth overall
Why She Quit: The Olympian was forced to withdraw after rupturing her Achilles tendon during a rehearsal, which required the volleyball star to undergo surgery.
Why She Quit: The country star decided to leave the show in sixth place to spend more time with her children after filing for divorce from her husband. She’s the only star to date who has quit the show for non-medical reasons
Why He Quit: The R&B singer (pictured above, left) was injured before the season began, so he was replaced in the lineup by his dad, rapper Master P (pictured right), who had historically low scores and was eliminated in seventh place. Romeo did eventually return to the show in season 12, finishing fifth.