Cheryl Burke is opening up about her sobriety, sharing how the recent years of her life have brought the Dancing With the Stars pro and her dance partner AJ McLean closer during the ABC show's ongoing 29th season. In an Us Weekly preview of the LadyGang podcast, Burke revealed she had been sober for two years now, which is part of why she wanted to be partnered with the Backstreet Boys singer, who has publicly spoken about his sobriety journey over the years, including his 2018 relapse.
"That's why I really wanted AJ, because I'm like, for him to be maybe partnered with someone who is just, like, still fresh in the scene [or] likes to go out, I was a little worried just as a friend in a way," Burke said on the podcast. "But then I'm glad we're partnered up together." As for her own decision to stop drinking, the dancer recalled coming to the conclusion she wanted to stop during her engagement party before marrying actor Matthew Lawrence in 2019.
"It was just a decision that I made for myself," she said. "And it was when Matt and I got engaged and it was during that engagement party that we were just like — or that I was like, he didn't even know — I was just like, I was done." Her father's experience with alcohol was an added catalyst to her sobriety decision. "My father passed away — and then my dad was an alcoholic — so either I was gonna crash and burn and check myself into rehab or I was gonna just quit cold turkey," she continued. "That's just my personality. It's either black or white."
Earlier this month, Burke and McLean launched the Pretty Messed Up podcast, which the former boy bander teased on Instagram as a discussion not only of their time on DWTS, but of their "families, friends and even digging into the topics of mental health and addiction." McLean has long chronicled his battle with alcoholism, including several rehab stays, attributing his sobriety to his love for his wife, Rochelle, and daughters, 7-year-old Ava and 3-year-old Lyric.
"Having a family and looking my two girls in the eye every single night and every single morning -- they're my lifeline," McLean told Entertainment Tonight in September 2019. "They're my everything. Them and my wife. So, I would never in a million years want to let them see me drunk or high or dead or in jail. I want to walk both my girls down the aisle … when they're 35! As long as I can hold off on boys, I'm going to hold off on boys!"