Strictly Come Dancing stars are known for their fearless attitudes, and head judge Shirley Ballas has proved she's the bravest of them all after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief this year. The 58-year-old has since opened up about how she came close to falling off the side of a mountain during the conquest. Talking to The Sun, Shirley recalled how she was saved from falling by fellow celebrity climber and ex-NFL player Osi Umenyiora, 37. She said: "We had to climb the mountain, which is shaped like a nipple, and you can die. The ledges were the size of my foot. I slipped and Osi, who is 6ft 4in and an NFL player, had me by the back of my neck, pulling me up to save me."
Shirley Ballas has opened up about her near-death experience
Shirley added: "You couldn't describe it to people because you wouldn’t believe it. You had to be there." The star also had another scary experience during the excursion, when Ed Balls, a former Strictly contestant, very nearly pulled her down the mountain with her. She said: "I was in front, Osi was behind and Ed was behind him. And it was quite a drop of three feet to get to the next ledge. Ed slipped and fell and rolled partly down the hill and he hit Osi so he didn’t hit me. If that had been me in front and Ed had fallen, I'd have gone down the mountain."
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Shirley was taking part in the 2019 Comic Relief challenge
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The star was inspired to take part in the Comic Relief challenge by her beloved brother David, who tragically took his own life 15 years ago at the age of 44. Shirley thought about David a lot during the trek, and said: "You can't control the emotions. I was crying over David. I was blaming myself. I was going back through all the years in my life, I was thinking I am not worthy." When she wasn’t coping well with the challenge, Shirley kept David in her thoughts. She said: "I had to remember I was doing this for David and anybody else who's got mental health issues."
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