Are AJ McLean And Cheryl Burke Still Friends?

AJ McLean is no stranger to being in the spotlight, and neither is "Dancing With the Stars" pro Cheryl Burke. McLean first became a household name after the Backstreet Boys exploded onto the music scene in the late '90s, with catchy songs like "We've Got It Goin,'" "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," "As Long As You Love Me," and "I Want It That Way" (via AllMusic) topping the charts left and right.

Of course, Burke is a star in her own right. The professional dancer is actually the longest tenured pro on "DWTS," having competed on 24 out of the 30 seasons of the long-running competition show (via Parade). In addition to dancing, Burke has also dabbled in acting, having appeared in an episode of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," "Smallville," "My Crazy Love," and "Jane the Virgin" (via IMDb). Burke is also known for showing off her dance moves in "Toy Story 3" — well, kind of. In the scene where Buzz Lightyear "stumbles into 'Spanish Mode'" and dances the Paso Doble with Jessie the Cowgirl, Pixar animators enlisted the help of Burke and fellow "DWTS" pro Tony Dovolani, studying the dancers every move to ensure the accuracy of the steps (via Inside The Magic).

AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke were partners on Dancing With the Stars

Cheryl Burke and AJ McLean were famously paired together during Season 29 of "DWTS," and had great chemistry throughout their run on the competition show. However, the couple was shockingly eliminated right before the semi-finals, and although McLean hung his dancing shoes up for the time being, he had nothing but amazing words for his partner. "You know what, this has been one hell of a ride and I could not have picked a better partner to go on this journey with," McLean said (via People).

While it's been a couple years since McLean and Burke graced the stage together with their seriously impressive dance moves, "Dancing With the Stars" fans are probably wondering whether or not the former dance partners have kept in contact since their season ended.

McLean and Burke have actually remained good friends ever since their run on "DWTS" ended, and the former dance partners actually started the "Pretty Messed Up" podcast together in 2020 — before they were even paired together on the show — so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the friends are still close as ever.

Cheryl Burke credits AJ McLean for getting her to attend AA

While Cheryl Burke has been open about her sobriety journey over the years, it was actually AJ McLean who encouraged her to attend her first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting when she was having thoughts about drinking again, as she was relying on her sober friends for support during that time. "It is extremely powerful to be able to confess and to do so before anything, God forbid I relapse," Burke said in an interview with Good Morning America (via Entertainment Tonight). "But I just needed something more to help me feel like I'm not alone."

"You're my only real sober friends that are in a program," Burke said to her "Pretty Messed Up" co-hosts McLean and Rene Elizondo Jr. "You guys have that vocabulary that is so relatable for me. When I'm not around you guys then I start to push. I'm so nervous. I've been held accountable because I'm telling everybody ... I have to say [that I'm thinking about drinking], or else I will drink ... I'm going to need you guys."

AJ McLean on his relationship with Cheryl Burke

In a blog post written for Us Weekly in October 2020, McLean opened up about his friendship with Cheryl Burke. "She is a very, very interesting human being. She has been through a lot in her life and has come out the other side gleaming," he wrote in the emotional post. "Her sobriety is amazing to me, especially in this business that we're both in, it's difficult. It's difficult to get sober, No. 1. It's even more difficult to stay sober and hats off to her for staying sober for now over two years. I see her staying sober, hopefully, for the rest of her life. It's a one day at a time thing, or as she says, one step at a time."

In an exclusive interview with CheatSheet, Burke opened up about her special friendship with McLean, revealing the most valuable thing the Backstreet Boy has taught her over the years. "[He taught me] being vulnerable equals strength," she said. "I've definitely worked through all of this in therapy, but to see somebody actually practice it and to be so vulnerable, especially during his first year of sobriety, is very encouraging."