Bono scored 21 points out for 30 from the judges after dancing a paso doble to the theme from "Rocky." The score was just enough to snap a 2-week streak at the bottom of the leaderboard.
"I'm trying to figure out why I'm crying," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said after Bono's performance. "You make me root for you. I think you have magic."
Cher also seemed to be near tears when the camera cut to her. The “Believe” singer had vowed to show up after Bono made it to week four of ABC’s reality competition.
She was joined in the ballroom audience by Bono’s stepmom, Mary Bono Mack, and other family members.
While members of the Kardashian clan and Courteney Cox have been audience staples this season for Rob Kardashian and David Arquette, Cher had until Monday showered support for Bono away from the cameras -- drumming up votes via Twitter.
Cher and Bono have in the past described rough patches in their relationship: when Bono – then Chastity – first came out as a lesbian and then decided to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. But the pair has long since reconciled.
Earlier this season, Cher forcefully defended Bono against “stupid bigots” on online forums.
Bono told People earlier Monday his pop star mom has kept a low "Dancing" profile because she didn't want to steal attention from him.
“I wanted people to be able to feel your presence and not take away from that and I think you’ve made your presence known now,” Bono said Cher told him in a text message last week.
Whether Bono’s improvement will be enough to help carry the transgender activist into another week of competition remains an open question. His judges' scores tied him for second-to-last with HLN host Nancy Grace and singer Chynna Phillips.
Talk show host Ricki Lake led the field with 29 points, scoring this season's first two 10s for her tango to the "Psycho" theme.
Veteran soap star J.R. Martinez scored the second best on the night, with Rob Kardashian and soccer star Hope Solo tying for third on the "Dancing" leaderboard. David Arquette followed next, his scores placing him in the middle of the pack.