Always in her heart. Laurie Hernandez opened up to Us Weekly about the recent death of her grandmother Brunhilda Hernandez, and how she paid tribute during her performances at the Monday, November 14, taping for Dancing With the Stars.
“It was a little hard. But I was able to — instead of saying anything, because sometimes you don't know what to say, I just danced my way through it,” the Olympic gold medalist, 16, told Us and other reporters after the show.
Despite her sadness, Laurie is happy that she had the opportunity to honor her grandmother (who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease) on the dance floor.
“I think she would have been really happy with the dances tonight — just because the first one was soft and elegant,” she explained to Us of her routines — which both received perfect scores. “And the second one had that Latin flavor, so she would have loved that one too!”
As viewers saw on last night’s episode, the decorated gymnast tearfully spoke out about her grandmother’s debilitating illness in a pre-taped package that was filmed prior to Brunhilda’s death.
“I kinda feel bad 'cause I’ve been away from home for so long, so I haven’t really been able to see her as much as I used to,” Laurie said. “And she’s not really doing so well, but I think I’m gonna see her soon.”
Luckily the teen athlete was able to see her grandmother one last time before she died. However, her DWTS partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, told Us that he and Laurie’s family purposely kept Brunhilda’s passing a secret from her for two whole days.
“We didn't tell her until Friday night. I found out Wednesday night. It was a hard situation and I'm not an expert in dealing with that. I want to protect her and guide her through that, but I'm not going to shelter her from a situation that'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,” the ballroom pro, 30, told Us. “And a person of that age, I think the most peace you get is by seeing what you leave behind, your legacy left behind and to see your granddaughter represent her country and represent her family and represent herself with so much dignity and pride and strength, I think it was an absolutely incredible feeling for her grandmother. I'm sure she's in a better place watching down and she's just as proud.”
Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.
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