Football player Michael Sam, who made headlines this year for being the first openly gay man drafted to the NFL, was voted off ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night.
"It was bittersweet," Sam said today on "Good Morning America," alongside his pro partner, Peta Murgatroyd. "That was my best performance but we did get eliminated but I have no regrets."
Sam and Murgatroyd performed an emotional dance Monday to "Not My Father's Son" from the Broadway musical "Kinky Boots. The pair compared the story of the dance to the journey of Sam's relationship with his estranged father, who spoke out against Sam after he came out publicly as a gay man.
"It was a real emotional dance. It was very powerful," Sam said on "GMA." "I’m so glad that I got to share that moment with Peta. She did a great job planning that out and I’m so thankful that I could share that moment with her."
Sam, 25, made headlines last year as the NFL’s first openly gay draft pick when he was selected by the St. Louis Rams. Now a free agent, Sam had been doing double duty by training for the NFL in the morning and then meeting Murgatroyd in the afternoon to train for "DWTS."
"It was very stressful at first," Sam said. "Now since ‘Dancing’ is over…I’m 100 percent focused on football training."
Sam and Murgatroyd will now watch from the sidelines as the remaining 9 celebrities compete for the mirror ball trophy. Murgatroyd says she has a favorite to win.
"I think Val will win with Rumer and I really hope that they do," she said of Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who earned a total of 35 points on Monday night. "I think that they’ve done such an amazing job so far. Rumer just has this presence about her and this realness that not many people can show on the floor."
Monday night's edition of “DWTS” brought back its “Most Memorable Year” theme, with each of the 10 remaining celebrities performing to a song that encompassed an unforgettable or incredible experience in their lives.
Nastia Liukin: The Olympic gymnast brought back the song she performed to at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – “Variations on Dark Eyes” by Lara St. John – for an Argentine tango with pro partner Derek Hough. The dance blew judges away, earning the first 10 of the season. “It was a stunner,” Bruno Tonioli shouted, with fellow judge Carrie Ann Inaba calling it “incredible.” Liukin dedicated the dance to her parents for supporting her lifelong dream of making it to the Olympics. Liukin earned a 10, two 9s and an 8, for a total of 36 points.
Michael Sam: It was a rumba for the football player, who chose to dance to “Not My Father’s Son” from Kinky Boots with pro partner Peta Murgatroyd. Sam compared the story of the dance to the journey of his relationship to his estranged father, who spoke out against his son after Sam came out publicly as a gay man. “When I first came out it was all over the press. What people don’t know is it cost me my relationship with my father,” Sam admitted on the show. “It shows I’m sad right now but by the end of the song I’m strong and I’m going to make it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m walking straight into that light.” Judge Len Goodman told Sam he “came out in the light,” this week. Tonioli agreed, calling Sam’s dance his best yet. Inaba and Hough praised Sam for opening up and dancing out his emotion. Sam earned two 8s and two 7s, for a total of 30 points.
Riker Lynch: The “Glee” actor and R5 musician paid tribute to 2014 when he said his band “took off to the next level” with a tango to “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon with pro partner Allison Holker. Despite being tied at the top of the leaderboard last week, the pair was in jeopardy this week, urging fans to vote. Judges overall liked the dance, but some called the pair stiff. “Tonight it seemed like you guys were fighting; the chemistry was a bit off,” Inaba critiqued, but Tonioli called Lynch a “vibrant neon light,” praising them for their “proper tango” despite “odd” music. Lynch earned two 9s and two 8s, for a total of 34 points.
Robert Herjavec: The “Shark Tank” investor danced to a favorite song of his mom, who passed away from cancer in 2006. “She used to love ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” Herjavec said. “When she was ill we used to watch the show together.” Earning their highest score yet, Herjavec and pro partner Kym Johnson danced the waltz to “The Last Waltz” by Engelbert Humperdinck. Despite being safe, the pair impressed judges with Herjavec’s “incredible frame,” according to Hough. Hearing that, Herjavec exclaimed, “Finally!” since the judges had been critiquing his frame in prior weeks. Hough told Herjavec he has “the best technique and footwork of all the guys.” Herjavec earned two 9s and two 8s, for a total of 34 points.
Chris Soules: It wasn’t the best night for “Bachelor” Chris Soules, whose rumba to “The Book of Love” by Gavin James with pro partner Witney Carson earned a “that wasn’t that great,” from Goodman. Dedicating the dance to his fiancée Whitney Bischoff, Soules otherwise earned praise from the judges for taking their critiques to improve his turns. Hough wished for a little more connection between the dancers, but thought it was an improvement nonetheless. Soules earned three 7s and one 6, for a total of 27 points.
Patti LaBelle: The singer set the floor on fire with her fast-stepping dance with pro partner Artem Chigvintsev to her upbeat hit “Dan Swit Me.” “I had accomplished so much before 1973, but nothing topped the birth of my son,” LaBelle explained about why she dedicated the dance to her son. The judges were jubilant following LaBelle’s performance, each heaping praise on the singing legend for her contagious joy, if not her technical ability. “You made me want to get out here and dance with you!” Hough exclaimed. LaBelle earned two 8s and two 7s, for a total of 30 points.
Rumer Willis: Getting personal about being bullied for her looks growing up in the media spotlight, the actress danced with pro partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy to Adele’s “Turning Tables” to signify a turn in her life when she accepted herself for who she was. “This past year really changed things for me. My sister Tallulah was in rehab,” she explained. “I was really inspired because she didn’t try to hide from it; she really owned it. I realized I could feel the same way and stop listening to the bullying.” That determination shined through to the judges, who called Willis’ performance “beautiful” and “powerful.” “There’s a power inside of you and the way you finish every move – you dance 10 feet beyond where your arms end,” Inaba said. Willis earned three 9s and one 8, for a total of 35 points.
Suzanne Somers: The 68-year-old actress won over all the judges with her tribute to the theme song of her hit sitcom, “Three’s Company” with pro partner Tony Dovolani. “It was so sweet and uplifting and had the evergreen quality of classic sitcom; you really captured that,” judge Tonioli told Somers. Despite the praise, he reminded her to “be careful not to lose your neck” and Hough warned her to “work on your upper body.” Somers earned four 7s, for a total of 28 points.
Willow Shields: The “Hunger Games” dedicated her dramatic performance to Coldplay’s “Atlas” with pro partner Mark Ballas to the hit franchise that hurtled her to fame. “I wanted to pay tribute to my fans because they brought me to where I am right now,” Shields explained. The strategy paid off, leading to the highest score of the night, with all four judges enthusiastically praising the dance. “You definitely would have made your district proud,” Hough exclaimed, with Tonioli agreeing and calling Shields “fearless.” Despite the high praise, Shields and Ballas were not safe, and judges urged fans to vote. Shields earned three 10s and one 9, for a total of 39 points.
Noah Galloway: Double amputee war vet honored America tonight with his passionate performance to Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” with pro partner Sharna Burgess. “This dance represents a journey of acceptance from the man I was to the man I’ve become,” Galloway said. It was that emotion that brought Hough and Inaba to tears. Goodman called for a standing ovation for who Tonioli called the “ultimate role model” and real life “superhero.” Galloway earned four 8s, for a total of 32 points.
Willow Shields and Mark Ballas: 39
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough: 36
Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 35
Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson: 34
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker: 34
Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess: 32
Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev: 30
Michael Sam and Peta Murgatroyd: 30 (They were voted off tonight.)
Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani: 28
Chris Soules and Witney Carson: 27