Dancing With the Stars’ champ Cheryl Burke brought home the coveted Mirrorball trophy twice. One of those victories was accomplished in season 3, when Burke was paired with former NFL star Emmitt Smith.
The chemistry between the dance partners helped them score their win, though it seriously concerned Smith’s wife, Pat.
Cheryl Burke and Emmitt Smith had a ‘solid friendship’
Burke shared her experiences on DWTS in her 2011 memoir Dancing Lessons. She revealed she is frequently questioned about romance on the dance floor.
“I’m asked all the time, ‘How do you not fall in love with your dance partner?’” Burke shared. “For professional dancers, physical closeness is just part of what we do. It’s a normal part of executing a believable performance. When there’s dance-floor chemistry between two people, it’s great to watch, and that’s what we dancers want to create for the viewers.”
When partnered with the ex-Dallas Cowboys running back, Burke was impressed by Smith’s commitment to the competition, which made their performances stand out.
“Emmitt and I had a solid friendship,” the pro dancer wrote. “We also had an undeniable chemistry when we danced. Maybe that’s because Emmitt, who had become a master at moving his body for his work as an athlete all those years, had given himself permission to dance.”
Pat Smith had a different view of the ‘DWTS’ partners
Along with millions of viewers, Smith’s wife, Pat, picked up on the chemistry between her husband and Burke. She became fearful of something more than dancing going on in rehearsals.
“During that time, I would have literal motion picture movies going on in my head of [Burke] and Emmitt in the dance room having this steamy affair,” she told Fox 5 Good Day New York host Rosanna Scotto in 2016, according to People. “I’m talking like Oscar-worthy films going on. And I literally sat at home thinking, ‘Okay, they’ve got this romance and there’s this chemistry and this thing’, and it was killing me.”
Pat put down some ground rules with her husband, including no socializing with the DWTS pro outside of practice. Smith’s wife also included Burke in family events, making herself more present in their partnership.
“I told Emmitt, ‘Listen, no going out to lunch, or let’s go run and get us Starbucks,’” Pat explained. “‘I need you all to keep this business.’ So what he did was really include me on the team. Cheryl was a part of our family’s parties, our kid’s parties.”
‘I went through a depression’
With her fears growing about Smith’s interactions with Burke, Pat admitted she struggled greatly throughout the competition.
“I pretended,” Smith’s wife revealed. “I put on a mask, which a lot of people do every day, which is exhausting. And when it was over I literally collapsed. I mean, I went through a depression about it.”
Realizing she needed a more positive focus. In 2012, Pat kicked off her non-profit organization Treasure You, which aims to inspire and empower women to pursue their passions even in the midst of obstacles. She also published her book Second Chances in 2016.
“I was happy that he won, obviously, he’s my husband,” she said. “But after that, that’s when I got my wake up call, that it was time for me not to be so worried with what he’s doing, but what it is that I’m supposed to be doing. And that’s really when Treasure You, my organization for women, was birthed.”
Pat and Emmitt Smith announced their decision to separate in July 2020. “We will continue to move forward with love and compassion for one another, as co-parents and friends,” they stated on Instagram. No reason was given for the breakup.
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