The semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars aired on Monday night (Nov. 14) and it turned out to be an intense and emotional night for most of the competitors, but none more so than Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez.
Before each performance, a video package rolled that included testimonials from each celebrity’s closest friends and family talking about how their upbringing and determination has gotten them where they are today.
In Hernandez’s, her family talked about the sacrifices everyone had to make to help her dream of being an Olympic gymnast come true. She spoke about her grandmother, Brunilda, who moved from Puerto Rico to the United States to give her family a better life.
Footage of Hernandez visiting her grandma 10 weeks ago was shown. Brunilda learned that the DWTS trophy is called the mirrorball, and she told her granddaughter to bring it to show off when she wins the competition.
“I’m very, very, very proud. Very, very proud of her,” Brunilda said in the package.
“My grandma suffers from Alzheimer’s, so her memory’s not that great,” Hernandez said in a confessional through tears. “I kind of feel bad because I’ve been away from home for so long so I don’t get to see her as much as I used to. She’s not really doing so well, but I think I’m gonna see her soon.”
It was revealed that the day after Hernandez’s interview about her grandmother, Brunilda passed away. Her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, gave her a hug during rehearsals as Hernandez cried in his arms.
“I wish I could’ve gone home one more time,” she told him.
After an emotional video package, Hernandez still had to dance her Foxtrot. Set to the tune of Tori Kelly’s “Hollow”, she channeled all of her emotions into her dance.
In the middle of the performance, Hernandez wiped a tear away, but continued delivering a solid performance. By the end of the dance, she had the entire ballroom, and everyone at home, in tears.
The judges offered their condolences, but also praised Hernandez’s dancing skills and ability to come out and deliver a passionate performance after what she went though, was just incredible. Reminder that this young woman is only 16-years-old!
Watch the emotional video package and incredible performance below.