Ryan Lochte was poised and ready to dance his way back into America's good graces when a handful of protestors tried to stop him in his tracks.

During Monday's Dancing With the Stars  season 23 premiere, a group of women wearing anti-Lochte shirts ambushed the Olympian on live TV. Security—with an assist from Derek Houghkicked the hecklers out of the ballroom. Ryan was visibly rattled by the protestors taking such a public stance against him, but their actions might have actually worked in his favor. For the first time since the Rio scandal, it seems, the public actually feels sorry for Ryan.

The 12-time medalist has apologized time and time again for what he admits was a "very big mistake." DWTS was supposed to be a reputation rehab of sorts for him—a chance for the boy next door to work his butt off and prove just how badly he really wants that second chance. There were doubters, sure, but no one was prepared to see an attempted takedown on a guy so eager to win us back. When those protestors tried to keep Ryan from even attempting his comeback, his DWTS family and fans alike rallied to support him.

Derek, who went as far as to personally tell the women in anti-Lochte shirts to leave, wants the audience to allow Ryan to move forward. "Honestly, like, get over it people. Get over it," held E! News. "In this world right now, we don't need negativity. We don't need people to condemn people....What's the saying? Let he without sin cast the first stone? Really guys, come on."

Maksim Chmerkovskiy wasn't a fan of the demonstration either. "I think it's the wrong ballroom for this,' he said stoically. His DWTS partner Amber Rose agreed, telling E! News that Ryan "didn't deserve that. It was his moment to shine, and it was really messed up."

Another DWTS competitor, Jana Kramer, saying Ryan is a "nice guy," as she added,  "I just want America to see the Ryan that we've gotten to know, because he's a really, really good dude. We all make mistakes."

If empathy leads to acceptance, we'd say Ryan's DWTS comeback is off to a good start. Now all he needs is hustle, heart and a few good moves to have the full comeback kid success story.

DWTS airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.