Dancing with the Stars judge Derek Hough has dedicated his Emmy Award win to his wife, Hayley Erbert, who has been recovering from a scary health crisis.

Derek, 38, won the award for Outstanding Choreography for Variety Or Reality Programming at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday, January 7.


Derek won the award for a dance routine to Michael Buble's "Higher" he had performed alongside Hayley on Dancing with the Stars last year.

Derek posted photos from his time at the Emmys on Instagram and captioned the carousel in part, "Exactly one month ago, to the day, my world was shaken. The contrast of that moment with this one couldn't be starker. It's a powerful reminder of how quickly life can change."

He continued, "I'm reminded to savor every moment, to cherish every day with the people we love. Being alive is the greatest prize we could ever win. To my wife, [Hayley], this one's for you. The center piece and muse of this dance. This journey, these moments, they are all the more precious because of what we've endured together."

Derek reportedly shared a similar sentiment in his acceptance speech at the Emmys.

"Exactly a month ago, I was in the hospital. This was a different moment," Derek said while accepting his award, according to Us Weekly.

"A month ago was a life-changing moment that reminded me to really cherish and savor every moment."

The former World of Dance judge dedicated his victory to his "beautiful wife," and he added, "I just flew in from Washington, D.C., last night. Your strength and your courage this whole month has been unbelievable. You inspired me every day."

Hayley, 29, underwent her second skull surgery on December 20 to replace a large portion of her skull that had been removed during her prior craniectomy.

Derek revealed the following day that the cranioplasty had been "successfully completed" and he felt "immense relief, gratitude and overwhelming joy."

In his December 31 recap of 2023, Derek wrote on Instagram, "In the face of uncertainty, this year has been a canvas of reflection, painted with the colors of life's challenges and joys. From creative passion projects to the unforgettable celebration of love at our Jack and Jill bash."
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Derek went on to list some of his accomplishments -- including a national tour, judging Dancing with the Stars, and many choreography awards and recognitions."

But Derek said the "pinnacle" of his year's journey was "committing our love to one another in a breathtaking fairytale wedding, followed by an enchanting honeymoon in Italy," referring to Hayley.

"These experiences are treasures of gratitude, reminding us of life's splendor and its fleeting nature. Each day of our extraordinary journey teaches us to cherish every fleeting moment," he concluded.

Hayley, for her part, returned to social media late last year to post a sweet photo with Derek under their Christmas tree.

"Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! Cherishing the greatest gift of all. The precious gift of life and the love we share," Hayley wrote alongside the photo. "Hold your loved ones close and treasure every moment."


Derek first announced that Hayley needed to be hospitalized on December 7, while the couple was at a tour stop in Washington, D.C. for their "Symphony of Dance" show.

Hayley became "disoriented" after a performance and was taken to the hospital, where she discovered she had a cranial hematoma from a burst blood vessel and required an emergency craniectomy.

Derek shared days later that Hayley, whom he married in August, was in "stable condition" post-surgery and had begun "the long road of recovery."

Derek later posted an update about his dance partner's condition on December 15.

"As you all know, the past week has been a challenging journey for us due to a life-threatening event that suddenly came into our lives," the Dancing with the Stars judge captioned an Instagram video of Hayley and himself slowly walking around Washington, D.C. while Hayley was wearing a helmet.

"It was a time filled with uncertainty and fear, going from living our dreams onstage to a nightmare in an instant. But today, we are filled with hope and relief as we share with you an update."

Derek went on to write how Hayley was "doing well" after her first surgery, although her "recovery process has been nothing short of a miracle."

The former DWTS mirrorball trophy champion continued of his wife, "She still has a ways to go with another surgery, hopefully in a few weeks, to insert a skull implant to replace the piece that was removed during the craniectomy."

"It will restore the skull to its natural shape and protect the brain from injury," Derek explained.

Derek also thanked the couple's fans, family, friends and supporters, and he, once again, expressed his "sincere appreciation" after Hayley's second skull surgery in late December.

Hayley went to the hospital only one day after Dancing with the Stars aired its Season 32 finale on ABC, when Marvel star Xochitl Gomez and her professional partner Val Chmerkovskiy were crowned champions.

Hayley faced another health scare around this same time last year, when she and Derek got into a snowy and "scary" accident while driving on icy roads together.

Hayley and Derek had posted the same video on Instagram in December 2022 that showed Hayley receiving stitches on the side of her face after their car hit a tree and then recovering with a bunch of junk food.

"On December 12, Derek and I got into a pretty scary car accident in the mountains. Our accident involved a steep hill, icy roads, a tree, and worst of all, the fear that we would slide off the mountain," Hayley captioned the video in part.

While Hayley said they were "both okay" and she walked away from the accident just "a little banged up" with "a swollen face and four stitches" above her eyebrow," Derek wrote in his then-fiancee's comments that she didn't "remember anything" after the crash and she was "dazed afterwards."

Derek and Hayley got engaged in June 2022 after more than six years of dating.

"It's only the beginning... the beginning of forever," the couple wrote in a joint Instagram post at the time.

Hayley and Derek met in 2014 when Hayley joined Derek and Julianne on their "Move Live Tour," according to Us.


Hayley and Derek's work relationship took a romantic turn one year later in 2015.

But Hayley didn't find fame until she competed on So You Think You Can Dance's tenth season as a contemporary dancer and also performed as a member of the Dancing with the Stars troupe beginning in 2016.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.