Dancing With the Stars pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy has been open about how much he appreciates many of his former celebrity partners, and he once again opened up about how one of those contestants is his hero.
In season 23 of Dancing With the Stars, Chmerkovskiy was partnered with Olympic artistic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, and the pair took home the win and the Mirrorball trophy.
Now, Chmerkovskiy shared a news story about Hernandez on his Instagram story and opened up about why she’s his hero and why he looks up to her.
Chmerkovskiy Says Hernandez is His Hero
Chmerkovskiy shared that he is proud of Hernandez and that she’s his hero.
“Guys, talk about my hero,” he wrote. “I CANNOT IMAGINE how absolutely difficult it was to get back into this shape and into the form to compete again. Especially when you had every excuse not to. I love you and I’m proud of you and your ability to sacrifice for and towards greatness.”
Chmerkovskiy was referring to Hernandez competing in her first gymnastics meet since the 2016 Rio Olympics, which according to Sports Illustrated, was over 1,500 days ago.
Hernandez earned 11th place for her floor routine, which featured “The Room Where It Happens” from the musical Hamilton.
“It was terrifying to initially go back out there,” she previously told NBC Sports. “Super watered-down routines so we could dip my toe back in the water and get the feeling of what it feels like to compete again at such a high level… I’m really excited about how today went, and I think it foreshadows a really good meet season.”
The routine was more than enough for her former Dancing With the Stars partner to declare her his hero, however.
Chmerkovskiy Opened Up About His Time With Other DWTS Partners
In the memoir, Chmerkovskiy opened up about what it was like to work with the then-teenage super-talented Zendaya. He said that because he knew how talented she was, he worked harder than he might with others.
“Zendaya was a special talent, and special talents had a special, higher bar to clear,” he wrote. “The standard was set not by the outside world, but by Zendaya herself, because of her talent. But it wasn’t talent that would allow her to succeed, rather it was her desire to fulfill that talent to the best of her ability.”
He also opened up about that season in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2018.
“My biggest heartbreak was on Dancing With the Stars, not winning with Zendaya, honestly,” he told the outlet. “That was a huge heartbreak for me because she was 16. I wanted this to be such a huge moment for her. She worked so hard, and I really wanted her to lift that trophy and jump-start her career. And she didn’t lift the trophy and I felt heartbroken about that.”
Chmerkovskiy recently talked about how proud he was of Zendaya on an Instagram story, writing, that her new movie Malcolm & Marie is a “Must watch, but especially for couples.”
He continued, “Raw, honest depiction and dialogue. Cinematic and creative filmmaking that keeps you watching from beginning to end. Proud of my girl Z. And John David kills it.”
Dancing With the Stars will return for season 30 in 2021.