By Deborah Starr Seibel,
William Levy's 6-year-old son, Christopher, was inconsolable. The minute Dancing With the Stars ended, Levy made his way through the throng of dancers, stars and judges congratulating the new champ, football star Donald Driver, to get to his son. Levy picked him up, rubbing his back and talking to him quietly, trying to explain that daddy was not a loser, but rather, "that we were all winners," says Levy.
What a difference a day makes. Even the judges thought the fight to the finish for the mirror ball trophy was going to come down to Levy and opera singer Katherine Jenkins. But that was before Driver put on his cowboy hat for that electrifying hoedown freestyle on Monday night. "He ripped that trophy right out of their hands," says judge Carrie Ann Inaba, moments after Driver and his pro, Peta Murgatroyd, took the Season 14 crown. "I think he wanted to win Dancing and he was not gonna let anything else be the outcome. That was the story of triumph."
"Now I know what JR [Martinez] felt last year, what Hines [Ward] felt, what Emmitt [Smith] felt," says Driver, still glowing after the big win. Driver, who has said all season that his Green Bay Packers teammates would never let him hear the end of it if he didn't snag the prize, says the thrill of winning felt as big and important as his win at the Super Bowl. "I think it's the same," he says. "You have a great moment. It took me 13 years to win the Super Bowl. I'm just glad it took me one season to win the mirror ball."
The 37-year-old Driver says Dancing will make him a better football player. "Peta has made me more flexible," he says. "I'm able to do things that I wasn't able to do two, three years ago -- from the jumping ability, to just being able to stretch. You get so comfortable that you don't those things anymore, and you don't try things once you get older. But I feel like I'm a twentysomething now, going back to play football. I feel good."
Fellow competitor Gavin DeGraw says he knows exactly why Driver won. DeGraw tells the story of heading to Dancing rehearsals early one morning, thinking he was up before anyone else. But then he saw Driver, already out jogging. "That guy would work out before rehearsals, after rehearsals," says McGraw. "He earned that trophy."
"He did exactly what he needed to do to win," says Inaba. "Because it's all about exciting the audience, and doing something unexpected. None of us expected Donald Driver to come out here and do a country hip hop. You know, Drew Lachey has always been my favorite freestyle [Lachey did "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" to win Season 2 with pro Cheryl Burke]. But now I have to give the title to Donald."
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