"As a human being, what he and his wife, Kimberly, suffered is heartbreaking, and I have so much sadness in my heart for them, and my prayers are with them," said Inaba, holding back tears. "But you know, this is when it's really hard. As a judge, I have to judge the dance. I know on Dancing With the Stars we show their stories and we get to know them, and they become family, and their pain is my pain."
But at the same time, it's like in the Olympics. If something happens to somebody before they get on the gymnastics mat, it doesn't matter what happens in your personal life, I have to judge what's happening on the dance floor," she continued. "In my opinion, I had to choose who I believed was a better dancer and who had come further. It was hard, I will say, though, and my hearts are with them... I went home and I vomited."
Co-host Marie Osmond chimed in, adding, "That's where you have to draw the line. I know a lot of people were saying, 'He should have been home with his wife,' because she just had a miscarriage and not even competing."
"Can I just say, that it just tells you what kind of a guy he is. He's a follow-through person. He's a finisher," she argued. "We all go through heartbreaking things in life."
"This is a huge competition, and I admire him," she added. "I think it shows his work ethic, sometimes too, you have to remember, those endorphins help you cope. We shouldn't judge him at all."
"The honest truth is, it is the closest it has ever been," he explained. "Because they all have the ability and the possibility to win. First thing, the most important thing, is nailing the freestyle. That is that performance that sticks. Another thing is, don't choke at the end... give us a freestyle that is memorable."
"Kel, for me, is a revelation. He's like a long-distance runner that finds the momentum just at the right time, and he keeps surprising people," he mused. "Ally, solid, I mean, showstopper after showstopper, good at every level. Lauren, she works it... clever. Hannah -- there has to be a persona. There has to be a character behind everything you do. She is starting to learn that, so she could surprise us."
ET spoke with Slater just moments after Monday's elimination, where she shared her thoughts on the emotional night in the ballroom.
"For me, the elimination was a little bit of shock to begin with, and then tears happened," she said. "But I got more upset about this weekend and what had happened with James and James' family and what he'd gone through. I was more visually and outwardly upset at that because that's real life. There's nothing bigger than that and family means everything."
"I wish that the show could have protected him a little bit more," she continued. "Meaning, like, he went through so much this weekend. I feel like, not really the show, but I wish that the judges might have just been a little easier on him. They've got a job to do and it's not fair of me to say that, but I do wish ... I just wish I could have protected him from it, but I can't because it's just what happens."
Tune in to the Dancing With the Stars season 28 finale Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. In the meantime, hear more DWTS news in the video below.