NEW YORK – Derek Hough has made it to the finals of the 16th edition of “Dancing With the Stars,” which wraps tonight, but he almost didn’t return to the ABC show this season.

“I was gonna sit this season out,” Hough said in a recent interview. “My mom hurt herself and she was in the hospital. I had this overwhelming feeling, ‘You know what? I feel like this isn’t the season I should be taking off. This isn’t the one.’ Now looking back, I’m really glad I made that decision because it’s been one of my favorite seasons as far as creating and working with people.”

Besides teaching his celeb partner, country singer Kellie Pickler, how to ballroom dance, he’s also performed with a blind dancer and danced in a rotating room.

The season finale airs at 9 tonight on ABC. Other celebs and their partners: Olympic gold-medal gymnast Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas, actress-singer Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovsky, and pro football player Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff.

Hough, 28, pushed for these opportunities to keep challenging himself.

“For me, I like to push myself … I hate feeling complacent or that I’m not learning,” he said.