Derek Hough ‘Welled Up With Emotion’ on Memorable Day

Derek Hough

Heavy/Getty Derek Hough.

Derek Hough paid tribute to a man who had great influence on him without even knowing it. In a post shared to Instagram on February 22, 2024, the “Dancing With the Stars”  judge honored what would have been the 62nd birthday of Steve Irwin.

The Australian “Crocodile Hunter” star died in 2006 after a stingray barb struck him in the heart. Irwin was just 44 years old at the time of his death.

Hough was partnered with Irwin’s daughter Bindi for a championship-winning season of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2015, marking his sixth mirrorball trophy win.

Here’s what you need to know:

Derek Hough Said Steve Irwin Inspired Him as a Young Boy


In a post shared to Instagram, Hough honored Irwin by posting a video of his daughter Bindi’s Most Memorable Year dance on ‘Dancing With the Stars.” In the clip, Bindi said the year that her dad passed away shaped her “the most.”

Footage from Steve Iwin’s Irwin’s memorial service, with young Bindi speaking about how much she would miss him every day, was shown. A more recent clip showed Bindi crying as she talked about how she still thinks her father will come home to her.

Another rehearsal clip showed Bindi in tears as she had a memory of an old photo of her and her dad. The clip ended with the DWTS duo’s stunning contemporary dance to the song “Every Breath You Take“ in honor of Steve Irwin.

Hough captioned the clip to reflect on how much Irwin inspired him as a young boy.

“I woke up seeing it was Steve Irwin’s birthday and I immediately welled up with emotion reflecting on his impact,” Hough wrote. “Steve Irwin’s boundless enthusiasm captured my attention as a young boy. I remember thinking to myself  ‘that’s how I want to live my life, with that much energy and passion.’”

Hough added that he was honored to eventually work with Irwin’s daughter on “Dancing With the Stars.” “Having the privilege to mentor and share such a special journey with his incredible daughter @bindisueirwin was one of the greatest honors and gifts of my life,” he continued in his tribute. The DWTS pro-turned-judge added that Irwin inspired so many others to live their lives with “passion.”

Bindi Irwin commented on Hough’s remembrance of her dad. “This means the world,” she wrote in the comment section. “Thank you for your friendship, @derekhough 🙏🏼 So grateful to share his legacy and story.”

Derek Paid Tribute To Steve Irwin in Another Dance


Bindi Irwin also posted her own message to her dad in honor of his birthday. “Happy Birthday, Dad. Your legacy will live on forever,” the DWTS season 21 champ captioned a slideshow of photos of her father.

Steve Irwin was remembered throughout Bindi’s run on ‘Dancing With the Stars.” When Bindi made it to the finals with Hough, Steve was honored at the end of their contemporary freestyle thanks to a surprise set up by the DWTS pro dancer.

At the end of their freestyle to Leona Lewis’ “Footprints in the Sand,” Hough arranged to have a photo of Bindi and her dad flash up on a big screen. Bindi appeared taken aback by the surprise, and even the judges got emotional.

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