Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy Were Bullied and Robbed After Moving to America
The Dancing With the Stars pros were born in Ukraine when it was still a part of the Soviet Union before moving to Brooklyn, New York in 1994.
“My dad had two college degrees but came here and was boxing pizzas,” Val says to People. “He was willing to pay his dues for the opportunity to live here and breathe this air.”
Maks, who was 14, and Val, who was 8, had a hard time adjusting to living in the United States.
“We had challenges. But we never let it chip away at the gratitude we felt for the opportunities we had,” Val continues.
In fact, Peta Murgatroyd’s fiancé was robbed for his Rollerblades when he was a teeanger and both brothers were teased repeatedly because of their accents.
They had only been in America for a short time, but the devastating terror attacks at the World Trade Center on 9/11 had a deep impact on the future two-time Mirrorball Champion.
“I watched the buildings go down on 9/11. I saw how much that impacted our country. I wanted to provide not only for my family, but my country,” the 31-year-old reveals.
Val eventually went on to win ballroom world titles on behalf of the United States and Maks opened up his first dance studio when he was just 16.
“I’ve never felt like this country owed me anything. If anything, I am forever in debt to this country,” Val says.
“I’m very aware of the political rhetoric surrounding immigrants right now, but they come here to contribute and are the backbone of this country — and that’s why we are the megapower we are.”
Fans of DWTS know Maks has been hard on his partners in the past, but he says it’s due to his intense work ethic and desire to provide for his family.
“I was very hard on Tia Carrere my first season on DWTS,” the father of one reveals.
“But I knew if we lasted longer, we got paid more, and my legs were helping pay for Val’s lessons and my family’s bills.”
Maks and Val are certainly living the American Dream!
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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