Laurie Hernandez has had an emotional week.
Days after finding out her grandmother Brunilda Hernandez, who had Alzheimer’s disease, had died, Hernandez had to perform two dances live on Monday’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars.” Olympic champion Hernandez has been a fan favorite throughout the season.
In a pre-recorded package for last night’s show, the 16-year-old got teary-eyed as she spoke about her grandmother’s worsening health.
“I kind of feel bad because I’ve been away from home for so long,” Hernandez said in the package. “So I haven’t been able to see her as much as I used to, and she’s not doing so well, but I think I’m gonna see her soon.”
The Olympian’s grandmother died the the day after the package was filmed. The audience was informed right before Hernandez hit the stage with partner, Val Chmerkovskiy.
Hernandez and Chmerkovskiy, dressed in purple in support of Alzheimer’s awareness, then glided across the floor dancing the foxtrot. During the touching performance, Hernandez can be seen wiping away tears halfway through the dance, and again at the very end.
That was the most amazing display of courage I’ve seen in 23 seasons." "DWTS" host Tom Bergeron
“I’m choosing to smile right now, with tears of joy and happiness, because I know that that’s exactly what your grandmother is doing right now,” judge Julianne Hough told Hernandez after her performance, which you can watch in the video above. “We should be celebrating her life and how incredible you are.”
Hernandez was then given a perfect score.
“That was the most amazing display of courage I’ve seen in 23 seasons,” host Tom Bergeron told Hernandez. “And I hope you could feel that 700 people in this room and countless more were sending you energy all through that dance.”
This included Hernandez’s Final Five teammate, Aly Raisman, who sent her friend support and condolences via Twitter:
“I just went out there and just gave it my all, I kind of look at dance as a way to express my emotions and my feelings,” Hernandez told E! News after the show. “Instead of having to say anything I was able to dance my way through it. It was kind of like a way for me to let it go.”