Laurie Hernandez Performs Heartbreaking Tribute To Grandma Who Died 2 Days Before

by Ana Luisa Suarez
Ana is an Associate Editor who loves animals and food. A good taco and a snuggle with her dogs is all she needs.

Season 23 of Dancing With The Stars is proving to be one of the most emotional seasons thus far.

Not a week goes by where a contestant doesn’t manage to move the audience or judges to tears with their passion, dedication, or heartbreaking story.

Usually, the most emotional moments occur during the “Most Memorable Year” episode, but in the semi-finals episode, the tears were flowing when Olympian Laurie Hernandez took the stage.

Laurie has been crushing the competition this season, working hard with her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, to prove that a 16-year-old deserves to win this competition.

No one has doubted Laurie’s abilities, and after this episode, no one will ever doubt her dedication — not after she performed two days after the death of a loved one.

Laurie’s grandmother, Brunilda Hernandez, had recently been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In this week’s episode, the pre-taped portion of Laurie’s segment involved her visiting her grandma in a nursing home.

“My grandma suffers from Alzheimer’s, so her memory is not that great. I kind of feel bad, I’ve been away from home, so I haven’t been able to see her as much as I used to,” Laurie said in the taping. “She’s not doing very well, but I think I’m going to see her very soon.”

In honor of her grandma, she performed a foxtrot to Tori Kelly’s “Hollow” and the dance was haunting.

Just one day after the packed tape that aired before Laurie’s dance was filmed, Laurie’s grandma passed away, on November 12, 2016. The semi-final episode aired live on TV Monday, November 14, 2016, and Laurie was there to perform.

As always, her dancing with Val was picture perfect, but with less than a quarter of the dance left, Laurie was overwhelmed with tears from all of the emotions she’s been feeling over the loss of someone so important to her.

“I am extremely close to my grandma,” Laurie said in her pre-show interview 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.”

The judges, as well as the audience, were quite obviously emotional over the whole experience, but everyone was moved to see Laurie’s spirit and passion during such a hard time. “You looked like you were flying, guided by an angel,” judge Bruno Tonioli told her.

It is no surprise that Laurie and Val got perfect scores for this dance. I am sure her grandma is so very proud of her. You can see the incredibly moving performance in the video below. Try not to cry: it will be impossible!

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