Rashad Jennings opens up about his relationship with his father in emotional DWTS episode
LOS ANGELES, Ca. (WSET) -- Rashad Jennings and his father credit each other for helping "save each other's life."
Jennings opened up about his relationship with his father on episode four of Dancing with the Stars Monday night in a very emotional dance routine.
He and his partner, Emma Slater, danced a contemporary number for the episode's theme of Most Memorable Year to the tune of Katy Perry's 'Unconditionally.'
“It’s a heartfelt song, the words and the lyrics display how I think a lot and embody how the relationship is between me and my father,” Jennings told PEOPLE Magazine. “With Katy Perry, there’s so many things in the song that she says about, there’s one part where she says, ‘Oh no, did I get too close? Did I almost see what’s on the inside?’ That’s my dad. Like, did I almost see all your insecurity, your dirty laundry? Because he’s so prideful, he don’t want anybody to get close to him. So he runs.”
Jennings said his dad used to drink and smoke around him all the time, and it was part of the reason he developed asthma and even had to go to the hospital.
At 32-years-old, Jennings said he's never had a sip of alcohol or a cigarette to prove to his dad that he could make it in the NFL.
“The doctors told him that if it wasn’t for him quitting drinking and smoking when he did, he wouldn’t be here today. So me and my dad both feel like because of that one little challenge that I took, even though it wasn’t a challenge that I took it that way, we both feel like we saved each other’s life in a way,” Jennings said.
Jennings' father suffers from Diabetes and as a result had to have both of his legs amputated.
Though Jennings earned a full scholarship to Pittsburgh University to play football, he changed his plans after learning about his father's diagnosis and transferred to Liberty University to be closer to him.
“All the things that I’ve been able to achieve have been because of the loving family, and we all counter balance each other when somebody’s struggling, one person picks them up,” Jennings said. “And so I truly feel like this song of unconditional love that we all have for one another in our family, but especially between me and my dad and I.”
Jennings dedicated Monday's dance to his father, who was flown out to see it live, with his mother, on Liberty's private jet.
He said his most memorable year was 2015 when he was able to buy his parents a home in Forest and customize it so that his dad could get around and also put every single thing his mom always wanted as a little girl, but couldn't because they didn't have the money.
In addition to the love of his family, Jennings also credits his faith to helping get him through tough times.
“God has given me a certain way of looking at life and has given me a unique work ethic. He’s put me in different positions to have a voice and there’s nothing special about me, I just always find myself in special positions,” Jennings told PEOPLE.
Jennings earned 39/40 points for his contemporary performance.
If you want to vote for him, you can call 1-800-868-3411 or go online here and cast 10 votes.