EXCLUSIVE: Laurie Hernandez Says 'DWTS' Partner Val Chmerkovskiy 'Was There for Me' After Grandmother's Death

Alex Ungerman
Entertainment Tonight

Laurie Hernandez sees Val Chmerkovskiy more as family than dancing partner.

ET spoke with the Olympian and her Dancing With the Stars pro teammate after their emotional performance on Monday night, shortly after the death of Laurie's grandmother.

"It was a little rough," the 16-year-old athlete admits. "Val and I were able to create this connection as brother and sister through the past couple weeks, and at this point I needed my brothers."

WATCH: Laurie Hernandez Breaks Into Tears After Heartbreaking 'DWTS' Routine Following Grandmother's Death

"I needed family with me at the moment," she added. "He was there for me, he picked me up. Dance it out."

And as Val pointed out, Laurie's grandmother had a lot to be proud of.

"I don't want to shelter her from natural emotion of life," he explained. "It's a tough thing to face, but I think at the end of it, her grandma is so proud of her, and it's clear to see."

WATCH: Laurie Hernandez Brings Val Chmerkovskiy and the Judges to Tears on 'DWTS' Halloween Week

"The way to honor her [grandmother] is to keep carrying yourself with the class that she does, with the focus and the strength that she does," Val continued. I told her, for a grandmother to see that she's leaving that behind, that's the proudest moment."

On Monday's episode, a heartbreaking package ran before Laurie and Val's dance, taped with the young athlete at her grandmother's assisted living facility. Her grandmother would die the day after the package was filmed.

What viewers at home didn't see was Val covering Laurie's ears while the package ran, moments before they danced.

"I didn't see the package. I honestly just heard our producer say, 'You probably want to cover her ears,'" he shared. "So I tried. I also was breaking down because no one was covering my ears."

WATCH: Laurie Hernandez Calls 'Dancing With the Stars' 'One of the High Points' in Her Life

"I am extremely close to my grandma," Laurie said during 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."

After the package ran, Laurie and Val's moving performance earned a perfect 30 out of 30 score.

Watch the video below for more.

Related Articles