A stress fracture in each of Tom DeLay
's feet forced the former politician to withdraw
from this season's Dancing with the Stars
during Tuesday's elimination. But the judges' scores and viewers' votes from Monday's show
still counted, sending home Entourage
star Debi Mazar
and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy
"I didn't want to go through another week like I had last week," DeLay tells PEOPLE. "You have to practice." Last week, doctors said he was suffering from pre-stress fractures in his feet. In a week, his injuries worsened.
On Saturday, he practiced for two hours followed by a 30-minute practice on Sunday. His partner, Cheryl Burke
, was growing concerned. "It's not worth the risk. He proved to everyone he could do it," she says.
She was surprised when Tom Bergeron
announced they were safe from elimination during the show. "People are really behind this man. They love him. He earned some Democrat votes, as well."
Bergeron invited DeLay to return for the season finale and perform the Texas two-step, which was the dance he was expected to perform next week. DeLay promised to come back. "Cheryl has already promised to come to Texas," he says.
As for her last dance, Debi Mazar
called her departure bittersweet. "It's sweet because I don't have to kill my body another week, but bitter because I loved the experience," she says. "I wish I had another chance to show that maybe I could leave my nerves at home and not bring them to the dance floor." --Elaine AradillasTell us: Who are you rooting for to go all the way?