Derek Hough Opens Up About Being Bullied as a Kid: “I Would Get Punched in the Face”
Derek Hough has not walked a smooth path to five Dancing With the Stars Mirror Ball trophies and one choreography Emmy (so far). In his new book, Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion, he shares milestones from his life and what they taught him. He previewed some of those lessons to USA Today, including one from when he was a schoolboy growing up in Utah, before he and Julianne Hough moved to London to study dance with the Ballas family.
The lesson in question is labeled “failure can't live in the company of perseverance.” Derek recalls, "I was this scrawny little guy in Utah, and I would get punched in the face. I remember bleeding profusely and filling my hands up with blood and throwing it in the guy's face and getting expelled from school. ... I don't have a sense of anger looking back. I have a sense of 'Wow, wonder where they were in their minds? What was going on that they felt they needed to do that?' The new form of bullying is, of course, online which is the most cowardly thing you can do."
Derek has talked a couple of times about being bullied by other kids for being a dancer, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2011, "I would get in fights. I broke some kid's nose. Well, he punched me first.” Derek was expelled from school for that fight, but the other kid wasn't. His mom was supportive of Derek fighting back, but his dad favored a less aggressive approach, to “just work it out.” Derek said, "And that's how I am in general — I'm a diffuser of a situation." He said when he moved to London, everything changed. "It was funny, because I went from being bullied in school [in Utah] to moving to England and being one of the more popular kids BECAUSE I did dance."
He just needed to find his crew! Derek is not the only DWTS pro to have faced bullying for being a dancer, but now they are all adored by millions of fans for their talents. Hopefully their success has shown a new generation of kids how cool it is to be a dancer, giving them confidence and strength.
DWTS Season 19 premieres Monday, September 15 from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on ABC.