There was a time when the Crocodile Hunter was the most talked about personality on television. Although, many had made jokes about his death for years (since he was always surrounded by the world’s deadliest creatures), it was still a shock when it happened in 2006. He left behind his wife, Terri, and their two children, Bindi and Bob.
Since Steve Irwin’s passing, daughter, Bindi, has worked tirelessly to preserve her father’s memory despite her young age. Now, at 17-year-old, she’s a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and, this past week, her touching tribute to her father earned her the season’s first perfect 10.
In a pre-recorded segment from Monday’s episode, she said: “What shaped me the most would probably be when my dad passed away. It’s been nine years and I’ve never really dwelled on that point. I think I’m ready to tell that story.” She continued: “It took a really long time to understand what actually happened. For the rest of my life, I’ll kind of feel like he’s going to come home.”
As she and partner, Derek Hough, prepared to take the stage, the pro dancer said that he did his best to prevent her from hearing the pre-recorded footage in order to help her maintain her composure. He told PEOPLE: “I was just holding her ears and blocking it out so we could focus on the dance and then after the dance you can let it out because it is hard to hysterically cry while dancing.”
The pair danced a contemporary routine to the Police’s iconic hit, “Every Breath You Take,” and, truly, took the audience’s breath away. She earned 28 out of 30, the highest score of the night – which included the first 10 of the season from judge Bruno Tonioli, who told Bindi: “He was dancing with you every step of the way.”
In a short interview with PEOPLE after the show, Bindi said: “You have to remember that that emotion is just a part of life, and we all have to deal with different things, but you have to find that beauty in every day. Tonight, it was just all about remembering the fact that dad is always with me, and I carry him in my heart.”
It can be so easy for us to move on after a celebrity’s death and forget that they are real people with real families. A wife and two small children were left to figure out life on their own while simultaneously having little privacy or space to breathe. Fortunately, it seems as though Terri has done a great job raising the kids on her own. Hopefully, Bindi’s brave performance will be a turning point in their healing process.