At 6’7”, former Laker Rick Fox is the tallest contender ever on “Dancing with the Stars,” and his height presented a wee bit of a problem for his professional partner, Cheryl Burke.
“I’m 5’4” OK? So I had to call up our little shoe department saying, ‘Listen! You guys are going to have to make me custom four-inch heels ‘cause I wont be able to do it,” Cheryl told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson when she stopped by the pair’s rehearsal. “This is the first time that I’m wearing four-inch heels and that is not normal. We are getting used to that.”
Rick too has had challenges to overcome in the pre-“DWTS” Season 11 practices. As a former professional athlete, he’s found he can bound across the practice studio with the force of a basketball man, swinging his partner around a little more forcefully and a little less gracefully.
“I’m finding it very challenging because I get very physical on her,” Rick said. “Out on the basketball court, I was very physical and out here I am finding that my grace is lagging behind.”
While his physicality could come in handy when lifts are finally allowed – much later in the season – right now, Rick is learning to tone it down and trust in his teacher.
“I think he is starting to realize that ballroom dancing is about a partnership,” Cheryl said of Rick’s progress. “He has to use me as his asset not as his defense.”
Rick and Cheryl’s first dance will be the Viennese waltz, but the athlete is hoping he sticks around long enough to get to try out a dance that bares his last name.
“I’m hoping there is a little bit of ‘Fox’ trot in there somewhere,” he laughed.
If he does make it through several weeks of competition, Rick is hoping his former Lakers teammates come to watch compete for the mirrorball.
“I was just texting Kobe [Bryant]… I’m hoping he brings his family,” Rick said. “He and Derek [Fisher] and Phil [Jackson]… you know, those individuals that I won championships with before on the basketball court, I’m hoping that they would come and support me on this new ballroom dance floor.”
“Dancing with the Stars” Season 11 premieres on Monday Sept. 20 at 8 PM on ABC.