Olympian and Dancing With the Stars sensation Laurie Hernandez earned a perfect score for her foxtrot this week, just days after her grandmother passed away.


In an interview before her dance, Hernandez spoke about how close she is with her grandmother Brunilda, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In a segment taped 10 weeks ago, the audience saw Hernandez and Brunilda speaking and hugging in her nursing home. The rest of the interview took place last week. “I kind of feel bad ’cause I’ve been away from home for so long,” Laurie told the camera, choking back tears. “So I haven’t really been able to see her as much as I used to. And she’s not really doing so well, but I think I’m gonna see her soon.” Brunilda died the following day.

It is incredible that Hernandez was even able to perform yesterday given the emotional stress and grief she must be feeling. She stunned the crowd in purple, in support of Alzheimer’s awareness, and she and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy performed a beautiful dance in honor of Brunilda. During the performance, Hernandez had to wipe away a tear, and she completely broke down at the end, crying into Val’s chest.

Even host Tom Bergeron was brought to tears, as were the judges. They complimented Laurie’s strength. Carrie Ann Inaba praised the 16-year-old for “using all that emotion and channeling it for something beautiful for us all to watch.”

“I’m choosing to smile right now, with tears of joy and happiness,” started Julianne Hough. “Because I know that that’s exactly what your grandmother is doing right now.”

The last judge, Bruno Tonioli, said it was as if Laurie was “flying, guided by an angel.”

The pair received a perfect score for 30 for their performance.

The couple that was sent home was Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber, despite their tying for first best score. But the evening really belonged to Hernandez. See her performance below.

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