DWTS, Lawrence Taylor

Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Lawrence Taylor's Dancing With the Stars pals say the man they see on the news today is nothing like the guy they got to know on the dancefloor.

If there's one word to describe their reactions to the Football Hall of Famer's arrest earlier this week for the alleged rape of a 15-year-old runaway, it's shock

"He was always so sweet and caring," said Melissa Rycroft, who competed against Taylor in season eight of DWTS. Interviewed last night at the 17th annual Race to Erase MS gala in Los Angeles, Rycroft told us that "He and I had a real friendship. He was a bit closed off and didn't let a whole lot of people in, but I, for some reason, was one of the people who he let in…It was shocking to hear the stories. It's definitely not the Lawrence Taylor I knew."

Rycroft says they haven't stayed in touch, but she hopes to reach out to him—just not now. "I hope I can just say, ‘Thinking of you,'" she said. "But if what all is being said is true, I don't know how to react to that."

Professional dancer Tony Dovolani echoed Rycroft's words.

"I'm still kind of in shock from the news," he said, adding, "He's just a really cool dude, so my heart goes out to him, but it goes out to the other side, too. I don't know the truth. It's in the legal system now."

Gilles Marini, who also competed in the same season as Taylor, said, "It's crazy. It's crazy news. He was always so soft-spoken and really always cool to me. I really just don't get it."

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