By Adam S. Levy
Radar Staff Writer
Hines Ward has a mirrorball trophy to go with his Super Bowl ring.
The gritty Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver prevailed on Tuesday’s season 12 finale of Dancing with the Stars, defeating Kirstie Alley and Chelsea Kane, who finished second and third, respectively.
The former Super Bowl MVP, along with his pro partner Kym Johnson, won after earning a perfect score (30/30) for their samba in the final dance-off, which Ward dedicated to his mother, Kim Young-hee.
“It’s special,” Ward, 35, said after the win. “With football, it takes all 53 guys. With this mirrorball, it was just Kym and I together in the studio putting in the hours.
“I’m just glad I didn’t let her down.”
Earlier this month, Ward’s season was in doubt when he fell on Johnson during rehearsals, causing her to be rushed to the hospital with a neck injury. The pair overcame the scary bump in the road to finish strong, en route to the show’s highest honor.
On Tuesday, the judges praised the pass-catcher for his resiliency in a bad situation.
“You learned how to lead the dancing [and] led your partner out of injury. ,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Ward, the Steelers’ all-time leader in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. “You dance with heart, and it shows.”
Ward joins legendary Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith as the only NFL stars to ballroom blitz their way to the show’s title; other gridiron greats who’ve competed on the ABC hit include Jason Taylor, Warren Sapp, Chad Ochocinco, Lawrence Taylor and Jerry Rice.
“We’ve had some great footballers on Dancing With the Stars,” judge Len Goodman said, “but I don’t think any compare with Hines Ward.”
Ward said the win Tuesday helps, in part, erase the bad taste left from his team’s loss in the Super Bowl earlier this year.
“I was disappointed we lost to the [Green Bay] Packers,” Ward said. “Dancing with the Stars said, ‘Come out and try to win this Mirror Ball.’ I have a place sitting at home for [my trophy.]”
After the win, Ward and Johnson appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where Ward said that winning the show was “comparable” to winning the Super Bowl.
“No it’s not!” Kimmel joked.
Following her loss, Alley was a good sport, tweeting: “Oh…ps don’t be upset about us not winning for long…. I won so much in the last 13 weeks that it would take hours to convey…LOVE.”
Kane, on her Twitter account, wrote, ”Thanks for the most amazing 3 months! Here’s to an amazing 3 days. NYC bound.”
Those who competed this season include The Karate Kid Ralph Macchio, rapper Romeo, wrestler Chris Jericho, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, talk show host Wendy Williams, radio personality Mike Catherwood, model Petra Nemcova and reality star Kendra Wilkinson.