'DWTS' Pro Witney Carson Opens Up About 'Really Hard' Death of Her Father-in-Law (Exclusive)

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Witney Carson's return to Dancing With the Stars is bittersweet. 

The pro dancer dropped out of the show's winter tour in December to be with her husband, Carson McAllister, and his family as his father Kevin's health worsened. Kevin died last month, after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. 

"It was hard. It was really hard," she told ET's Nischelle Turner in New York City on Friday, as DWTS' new season's lineup was announced. "And I didn't go on tour, so that was difficult." 

"But I'm really happy that I stayed and had that time with family," she added. "So it was good." 

Carson revealed that she'd be returning to the show less than a week after her father-in-law died, and told ET that her DWTS family couldn't be more supportive. 

"It makes me feel so grateful and humbled. Like, this cast, and everybody here on the show, it's just a big family. Everyone has been super supportive," she said. "I'm just ready to dance! I haven't danced in so long I'm jittery. I want to just go, you know?"

Carson is partnered with Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer for DWTS' all-athletes season, according to the pair, things are going well so far. 

"He's got some rhythm, for sure. He's got this strengths," Carson teased. "He's doing pretty good. I'm pretty impressed." 

"There's so much technique involved... I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but there is so much technique that I do not have, so Witney is a fantastic coach," Mazdzer added. "We both speak sarcasm fluently, and it's some tough love on the dance floor right now." 

As for who the duo sees as their biggest competition, Mazdzer's already got his eye on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- as well as the three figure skaters (Adam Rippon, Tonya Harding and Mirai Nagasu) on the show. 

"They've had a lot of success on the show, for sure. A lot of them had won, so we're definitely eyeing them down," Carson confessed. "They're going to be our biggest [competition]."

For Mazdzer, however, the biggest challenge is going to be "getting out of my own head." "Like, stop being self conscious and just go," he told ET. "Got a good partner right here, though. A good coach." 

Dancing With the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. 

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