I was raised by a mother whose primary hobby the past 20 years has been ballroom dancing. From attending daily lessons to recording competitions on television to stuffing her closet with ballroom dance outfits, my mother will always be obsessed. Naturally, that makes me a perfect spectator-judge for this season's "Dancing with the Stars," which features three top-notch athletes: Hines Ward, Sugar Ray Leonard and Chris Jericho. Based on the knowledge my mother passed down to me as well as my own oh-so scientific criteria, I've gauged these athletes' star potential and their chances for this year's coveted Mirror Ball trophy.
This former Super Bowl MVP is a star on the field, but isn't necessarily well-known for his superb touchdown dances (Performing a Cha Cha set to Flo Rida's "Club Can't Handle Me," Ward proved his quick feet aren't reserved for just the turf. But does he have what it takes to go all the way?
Performance: Ward tapped into a younger demographic and gave the audience a fun, modern, hip-shaking Cha Cha, showing off his smile and swagger every second on that stage. As the most popular of the three, Ward had a loud fan base from the moment he was introduced, and carried that confidence into one of the most energetic performances of the night.
Costume: My mom taught me that like a picture, your dance outfit is worth a thousand words. Yet Ward's khaki pants and glittery yellow suspenders left me flabbergasted. Granted, he's used to depending on a uniform, but in this competition, he'll need to find a fashion guru to fit his groove.
Quotable: "Who knew under the helmet and the football gear, there was all THAT?" -- Carrie Ann
Season Potential: Ward wasn't afraid to take on a technical piece for his first dance of the season, and that gamble paid off. He'll for sure bring the energy week after week, and no doubt he'll smile every step of the way. I wouldn't be surprised if Ward found himself dancing into the finals.
Sugar Ray Leonard
This world-class, self-proclaimed "boxing legend" is in the record books for being the best in his sport. He stepped out of the ring to take on a new challenge with a Foxtrot and brought some class to the competition. As the oldest male dancer in this season's cast, can Sugar Ray keep things sweet and take the trophy home?
Performance: From song choice ("The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News) to the classic take on the Foxtrot, Sugar Ray Leonard's smooth performance was perfect for the boxer's reintroduction into mainstream pop culture. Although he was a little stiff at first, Sugar Ray found his groove in the second half of his performance, wrapping things up with a mid-air heel kick. No doubt Sugar Ray still has some spring in his step, even at 54.
Costume: Sugar Ray's costume was several notches better than Ward's. The simple suit glammed up with a glittery heart was perfect for the performance; fun yet dignified. He's performing a Latin dance next week, so here's hoping Sugar Ray finds yet another perfect look to match his dancing spice.
Quotable: "Out of hold, sugar and spice and all things nice [but] in the hold, you turned into a Ninja Turtle." -- Bruno
Season Potential: I'll tab Sugar Ray Leonard as my sleeper pick for the season. He clearly has the energy and charm for the competition, but as his intro video showed, the perfectionist in him might be his downfall. If he keeps having as much fun as he did this week, Sugar Ray could very well be placing the Mirror Ball trophy next to his boxing awards on his mantle in May.
This WWE wrestler is best known for his punishing performances in the ring. Jericho set his version of the Cha Cha to a rock-n-roll track, and gave the edgiest performance of the night. Lacking the star power his competitors tout, will Jericho body slam his way to the top?
Performance: Jericho is better known for his stage presence than his quick moves, so it was no surprise that his dance with the stiffest and messiest of the three. But adding a rock-n-roll twist to his Cha Cha allowed Jericho to act his way through the dance, and it was great to see him have so much fun with it.
Costume: Hands down, best costume of the night. Jericho and his dance partner strutted their stuff in all leather outfits, decked out with chains, making them fit for a motorcycle gang as well as the dance floor. It added to the high-caliber theatricality of his performance, but didn't add much to the ballroom aspect of his dance.
Quotable: "I haven't had so much fun with leather and PVC since the Village People." -- Bruno
Season Potential: Jericho definitely has room for improvement, but he also has the attitude of a winner. He injects a much needed dose of fun and excitement as the show wound down, and his unconventional claim to fame can help him stick out in voters' minds. He'll need to step out of his theatrical, edgy comfort zone in the future, but his enthusiasm for the competition will be his catalyst for success.