It was an emotional episode of Dancing With the Stars
for Laurie Hernandez
on Monday, following her grandmother's death just one day before.
In one of the most heartbreaking moments in DWTS
history, the pre-taped package played before the Olympic gold medalist's
performance focused on her relationship with her grandma, Brunilda, who supported Hernandez' dream to be a gymnast ever since she was a little girl.
"I am extremely close to my grandma," the 16-year-old DWTS phenom
said in an interview in the package. "Growing up, she would always do my hair, she was always the one who would make me chocolate milk or rice when I came home."
Sadly, after showing Hernandez visiting her beaming grandma at her assisted living facility, the show revealed that she passed away just one day after the interview was recorded. The poignancy of the situation made Brunilda’s support even more resonant.
Taking to the floor with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy
, Hernandez delivered a beautiful, poetic foxtrot set to Tori Kelly's "Hollow." Despite openly crying during the routine, the gymnast managed to infuse every step with heart-wrenching emotion, and the impact was evident in the reaction from the audience and the judges.
Immediately after their performance, Hernandez broke out in tears, and was comforted by her partner. Even host Tom Bergeron was teary-eyed as he asked the judges for their feedback, which was unanimously glowing.
"You looked like you were flying, guided by an angel," shared Bruno Tonioli, who went on to say that she executed every step of the dance "brilliantly."
Bergeron even gave Hernandez a hug after the judges' responses, and said her dance was "the most amazing display of courage that I've seen in 23 seasons."
"I hope you could feel that 700 people in this room and countless more were sending you energy all during that dance," he added.
Not surprisingly, the couple scored a perfect 30 out of 30 for their efforts.
For her second dance of the night, the trio performance, Hernandez teamed up with both Val and his brother, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, for a stunning samba that Carrie Ann Inaba actually called her "best dance ever." The performance added another perfect score
for the couple, who are once again the front-runners to win this season's coveted mirror ball trophy.
This isn't the first time the celebrated Olympian brought everyone on DWTS
to tears. During Halloween week, she delivered a beautiful performance that actually made her partner cry with joy.
Check out the emotional dance in the video below.