During the season 28 semifinals episode on Monday, the Dawson’s Creek alum, 42, was sent home one week shy of the ABC reality dance competition’s finale episode.
After each of the contestants performed their two dances for judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, Van Der Beek and his pro partner Emma Slater landed in jeopardy alongside Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber.
In the “hardest judges’ verdict so far this season,” according to co-host Tom Bergeron, Inaba and Tonioli chose to save Brooke, a decision Goodman also would have made had Inaba and Tonioli’s votes been split.
“This is not easy. First of all, this is not at all what I expected to see here,” Inaba said before she made her decision.
The judges’ verdict was an especially difficult one as Van Der Beek announced earlier in the episode that his wife Kimberly had suffered a miscarriage over the weekend.
When Brooke learned that she would be proceeding to the finale, she asked Bergeron if she could give her spot to Van Der Beek, which the competition doesn’t allow.
“Can I give it to James?” a tearful Brooke, 26, said before she apologized to Van Der Beek.
“Ally has asked if she can give it to James, a lovely gesture,” said Bergeron, 64.
As the episode wrapped, Van Der Beek, Brooke, Slater and her husband Farber all shared an embrace on the ballroom floor.
During a video package, the actor revealed the devastating news that Kimberly had lost their sixth baby on the way.
“My wife Kimberly and I went through every expecting parent’s worst nightmare. We lost the baby,” an emotional Van Der Beek said. “The little soul that we had expected to welcome into our family took a shortcut to whatever lies beyond.”
“You never know why these things happen, that’s what I’ve been telling my kids. All you know is that it brings you closer together, it breaks you open, it opens your heart, it deepens your appreciation,” said Van Der Beek. “It makes you more human.”
Although Van Der Beek admitted that he didn’t think he’d be dancing on Monday evening, he chose to compete for Kimberly, who pushed him to continue in the competition.
“Kimberly, I love you,” said Van Der Beek, who dedicated the dance to his wife: “Kimberly, I’m dancing for you, I’m dancing for us, so here we go, babe.”
Audiences watched as Van Der Beek danced a touching Foxtrot to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” After his performance, Van Der Beek wept as Slater embraced him on the ballroom floor.
“Kimberly, I love you. Thank you for pushing me out on that dance floor,” the actor said in a sweet shout-out to his wife before judges awarded him and Slater a 27/30. “Thank you for everything you do. I don’t know how you do it. Five kids. You’re amazing.”
He further shared the tragic news on Instagram, writing, “Wrecked. Devastated. In shock. That’s how we’re feeling right now after the soul we thought were going to welcome into our family in April… has taken a short cut to whatever lies beyond this life. We’ve been through this before, but never this late in the pregnancy, and never accompanied by such a scary, horrific threat to @vanderkimberly and her well-being.”
“Grateful that she’s now recovering, but we’ve only just begun unpacking the layers of this one. Thank you to all of our friends and co-workers (and dance partners) who have shown up for us so beautifully during this time. As many of you have said, ‘There are no words…’ and it’s true. Which is why in a time like this it’s enough to know that you’re there. Grieving AND counting our blessings today,” wrote Van Der Beek.
Before he announced the heartbreaking news on DWTS, Kimberly hinted at the tragedy on social media.
“It was a TOUGH weekend,” she wrote on Instagram earlier Monday. “Extra thankful right now to have help with my kids. Keeping these cuties happy as can be while I replenish at home.”
Next week, the four remaining celebrities — Brooke, Lauren Alaina, Kel Mitchell and Hannah Brown — and their pro partners will compete during the live finale episode.
The Dancing with the Stars season 28 finale airs Monday, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. ET.