Olympic champion, and current Dancing With The Stars contestant, Laurie Hernandez had an emotional breakdown after she completed her first dance of the evening.
In one of the most real moments on television, 16-year-old Hernandez was brought to tears thinking about her late grandmother. Her grandmother, Brunilda Hernandez, passed away from Alzheimer's last Wednesday evening. However, her family (and dance partner) decided they would wait to tell her until they felt she was ready.
Hernandez's dance partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, found out on Wednesday along with her parents. But they felt they had to wait until her dances were learned completely and she was more confident with her routines so she would not lose focus. It was a tough decision, but one they all felt was necessary.
"I just want to protect and guide her through it, but I'm not going to shelter her from a situation that is hers," said Val. "It's hers to face and hers to grow from and hers to understand as well. She needs to take time and understand it. "But the reality is that her grandma was so proud of her and as a person at that age, I think the most peace you get is by seeing what you leave behind and the legacy you leave behind and to see your granddaughter represent her country and her family and herself with so much dignity and pride and strength is an absolutely incredible feeling for her grandma."
During Hernandez's pre-tape interview, she speaks of her grandmother and just how much she meant to the family. Hernandez also mentions feeling guilty about not being able to see her more, but believed she would see her very soon. Her grandmother passed away the next day.
The video played before Laurie and Val's first dance of the evening, and Laurie could not thank Val enough for his support.
"He actually covered my ears while the package was playing. I still cried a little bit, but without him I would have probably not been able to dance as well as I did today – or even dance at all," says Hernandez. "When you have family with you, it gives you extra energy. It was like I gained two brothers this week."
The brothers she's referring to are Val and his brother Maksim, who was part of the duo's 3rd dance.
"Tonight was a little hard. Sometimes you just don't know what to say. So instead of saying anything, I danced my way through it," said Laurie.
Check out the powerful dance and interview from the show. All the judges, and the host, are brought to tears. It's incredibly moving.