Jaleel White probably thought it was a good idea to appear on “Dancing With the Stars” at first. The 35-year-old actor was still best known for his role as Urkel on the 90’s sitcom “Family Matters” despite other TV roles and a degree in film and television from UCLA. Despite those efforts and his voiceover work on the “Sonic The Hedgehog” series, he was still best known as a character he stopped playing when he was 19.
But a few weeks on “Dancing” and White’s attempts to get from under his sitcom identity seemingly backfired. Within days of his first appearance, his daughter’s mother, Bridget Hardy, came forward and said that White had abused her in 2010, pushing her into a toilet so hard it broke. White said the allegations were false. He was never arrested or charged and told People.com that he believed that the allegations stemmed from a police report filed during the former couple’s custody battle a few years ago.
“As much as I would love to go detail for detail refuting Ms. Hardy’s claims about the specifics of what was our relationship, the family court judge made it very clear to me any public discussion of our case and ordeal would be held against me in a court of law,” White said in a statement. He added that he believed that their custody arrangements had been agreed to and that he was paying child support. “Bridget Hardy is the mother of my only daughter in this world and without Ms. Hardy I would not have the treasure that is my daughter. God knows the truth. … I ask for your sensitivity during this time, I can assure all of my fans this is only residue from a child custody matter.”
After that was resolved, at least in the press, the next report to surface was that White had had a physical altercation with his dance partner, Kym Johnson in a rehearsal for “Dancing With the Stars.” After the professional dancer reportedly stepped on his foot, things got heated and competitor and NFL star Donald Driver and dancer Mark Ballas had to intervene. Once again, White was forced to defend himself, saying things were blown out of proportion. Driver agreed, telling ESPN.com that:
“I think things like this are always overexaggerated. People make more out of it than what it is. I’ve known Jaleel for a long time and continue to have a great relationship with him,” Driver said. “It was an emotional week, but I didn’t sense that people were on edge. If anything, I’d say this week brought everyone closer together because we were all there for each other.”
But fortunately for White, who was in the bottom of the pack of the competitors, bounced back with a little help from Motown. On Monday night’s show, White and Johnson danced to the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and moved up in the rankings, staving off what was a sure elimination and going from last to a first-place tie. On Tuesday night’s show, White and Johnson stayed in the game again, while Gladys Knight and her partner Tristan McManus were eliminated.
“The message I have is, I’m not a quitter,” While tells People.com “And I wasn’t going to let down my partner. Nobody wants to go home, but if I am going to get sent packing, I’m not going to get sent packing doing my worst.”
The newfound interest in White will hopefully translate to his new Syfy show “Total Blackout” described as a reality competition show where “Fear Factor” meets Punk’d is airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Watch a clip below: