‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 14: Donald Driver On Growing Up Homeless, Devotion to Family

By Suzan Clarke

Apr 16, 2012 7:58am
abc donald driver dm 120416 wblog Dancing With the Stars Season 14: Donald Driver On Growing Up Homeless, Devotion to Family

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Donald Driver has emerged as one of the fan favorites on season 14 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” his enthusiasm and infectious smile winning over fans and judges alike.

The Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver is accomplished on the field, but he’s not just about football. He’s a devoted family man, too.

Driver and his wife, Betina, have been married for 12 years.

“We have three beautiful kids. Christian is 8. Christina is 6. And, Charity is 7 months. So, you know, I love my babies … For a guy that grew up saying he never wanted kids, it’s truly a blessing,” he told “Good Morning America” correspondent Cameron Mathison.

In addition, Driver, 37, is a three-time children’s book author.

His books center on a character named “Quickie” — the nickname Driver’s mother gave him when he was a child because when she tried to spank him, she had to work hard to catch him.

Driver opened up to Mathison about his childhood.

“Well, I mean, I grew up homeless, you know, lived in and out of U-Haul trucks and, you know, apartment houses, friends.  You know, when Mom’s trying to raise five kids, it’s very hard. But, you know, I think one thing she’s always said is that God’s going to get us out of it, and he did,” he said.

Driver’s mother and mother-in-law are both in Los Angeles helping to care for Driver’s children while he dances.

His children are never far from his thoughts, especially because he has images of the two older ones tattooed onto his side. An image of Charity will soon be added.

Driver’s chiseled physique and multiple tattoos may make him appear tough, but he has a sensitive side.

In fact,  his expressive turns on the dance floor have earned him rave reviews from the show’s three judges.

His performance in the week that contestants recalled their most memorable year was dedicated to his best friend, Brian Pretlow, who died from cancer in Driver’s arms.

“I didn’t expect a great big, hunky, dunky football guy to come out and dance with such warmth and emotion,” head judge Len Goodman told Driver after the emotional rumba.

Driver has long been a fan of the show — where other star athletes have appeared and done well — but he admitted that he was worried about costumes featuring see-through shirts.

When Mathison reminded him that his performance on last Monday’s rock week show was done bare-chested, he replied:

“I’m good with the shirt completely off, but all the see-through stuff, I don’t care for all that,” he said. “Don’t tease people. You’re either going to show it to them or you’re not going to show it to them.”

That performance, a powerful paso doble that pleased viewers and judges alike, earned him the high score of the week and the top spot on the leaderboard.

Tonight’s show will feature Latin dances, and the remaining competitors will perform either a samba, salsa or Argentine tango.

He and his partner, Peta Murgatroyd, insist that they will make it to the season’s final three couples. Murgatroyd was formerly partnered with NBA player Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest). They were the first pair to be cut last season.

Asked about the difference between teaching the NBA star and her current partner, she replied that Driver “shows up on time, wants to win, wants to be here.”

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