According to his father, ballroom great Corky Ballas, the minimally invasive surgery "went really well," and at some point Mark should be able to join the Dancing national tour that kicks off Dec. 18 in Seattle. That's good news for Ballas, who, before this, has never suffered a serious dance injury. And it's great news for Bryan, who is his real-life girlfriend and was facing two months on the road without him.
"She's been amazing," says Ballas. "She's been here every day, helping me along." Ballas says that Bryan knew full well that he was in trouble when they were still on the dance floor. "While we were dancing, we were talking to each other," says Ballas. "I don't think it's on the tape because the camera was on her feet. But I was saying, 'I'm in pain, it's hurting.' And she said, 'I know, baby, I know.' She just kept looking at me and helping me stay focused. I wasn't going to let a mere shoulder injury get in the way. I just wanted to do the dance one last time."
But after the dance, Ballas — still in his rhinestone-studded Latin dance outfit — was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's emergency room. "They got the jacket off of me at the show," says Ballas. "But at the hospital, they had to cut my shirt off."
One of the unsung heroes in this story is another celebrity dancer, MBA Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. It was Cuban who rushed in to help All My Children star Cameron Mathison when Mathison strained his hip (Mathison suffered from a childhood disease that endangered the use of both hips) while performing on the show. It was about the halfway point of the competition and Mathison was afraid that for him, the show was over. "Mark was such an amazing help," says Mathison. "He doesn't tell anyone he's doing these things. He just does them. He put me on the phone with the trainer for the Dallas Mavericks and [the trainer] told me what to do to test the hip, to see what kind of injury it was. It wasn't serious. But I was really worried."
When Ballas was hurt, Cuban stepped in again, offering to give the Ballas family a second opinion from his own doctors if they wanted reassurance before Mark underwent surgery. "He's been e-mailing me every day," says Corky Ballas, "checking on Mark." Cuban has had a lot of experience with these kinds of injuries because of what his basketball players go through. Based on his own observations, an injury like the dislocation Mark Ballas suffered "usually takes about six months to get back to normal," says Cuban. "But he can still dance in the recovery period. He just has to take precautions, like I did with my hip." Cuban, you may recall, had his own hip-replacement surgery just three months before he started Dancing.
So here's the plan: Mark Ballas will do all of his major choreography on his right side, so as not to put any strain on that left shoulder. Up until now, he's been observing the Dancing tour rehearsals to learn his steps. "I'm more of a visual learner, anyway," says Ballas. "I always stand and watch. I'll do my best to get back out there as quickly as possible. Because doing this show is the best time I've ever had in my life."
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