Nelly honored his late sister Jackie Donahue with a lovely performance on “Dancing with the Stars” Monday night.
Donahue died in March 2015 from cancer. PEOPLE previously reported, she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in March 2001. The cancer was in remission for nearly two years before Donahue suffered a relapse in 2003. Nelly formed the Jes Us 4 Jackie campaign to find a bone marrow donor for his sister but one was never found. Donahue died at age 31.
Prior to his performance on DWTS of the Rumba to the song “Nobody Knows” by the Tony Rich Project, Nelly noted that the track was one of his sister’s favorites. The dance dedication also took place on his birthday.
Watch the performance via the YouTube video above.
— Dancing with the Stars #DWTS (@DancingABC) November 3, 2020
“My sister Jackie was very special to me — she was my big sister, so she definitely acted like it,” Nelly said in a video that aired during the show. “She was a real tough cookie, such a loving and caring person, [and] she was the caption of the ship up until she was no longer able to be it.”
Of his sister’s leukemia diagnosis in 2001, Nelly admitted, “When it literally hits home, it’s a little different feeling.”
“We were trying to get as many people signed up on the bone marrow stem cell registry as possible, but it wasn’t enough and we couldn’t find one,” he said. “And she passed in 2005.”
“That was one of the worst days of my life,” the singer continued. “Before she passed, she was worried about what was going to happen to her kids. I was like, ‘Don’t worry about them — they’re going to be taken care of.’ It was a whole family effort as far as making sure her kids had everything they needed.”
Watch Nelly’s emotional clip and performance with dance partner Daniella Karagach via the YouTube video above.
“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.