It was Most Memorable Year week on Monday’s Dancing With the Stars — that time of the DWTS season when celebs make everybody cry with their touching, emotional stories of a hardship they’ve overcome, a sacrifice they’ve made or a pivotal moment in their lives that changed the course of their destiny — and this season’s crop of stars had some truly moving memories to share.
From parental relationships to health problems, here’s a look at some of the night’s most emotional stories.
Nancy Kerrigan Opens Up About Her Miscarriages
The former Olympian got choked up during her pre-taped package, where she got candid about her emotionally painful struggle to have children.
“Since I was 10 years old, I always wanted to have three kids by the time I was 30, sort of like what my mom had done,” she shared. “Not long after having Matthew, we thought we wanted to have more kids. So I got pregnant, but I had a miscarriage… it makes you feel like a failure.”
Kerrigan and her husband, Jerry Solomon, welcomed their first son, Matthew, in December 1997, but then suffered six miscarriages in eight years. Thanks to in vitro fertilization, the couple later welcomed two more children, son Brian and daughter Nicole.
“You feel guilty, like what did you do wrong?” Kerrigan shared with her partner, Artem Chigvintsev. “It almost felt shameful, because I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Kerrigan and Chigvintsev wowed with their emotional foxtrot set to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, earning a score of 33 out of 40.
Mr. T Reflects on His Cancer Battle
For the former A-Team star, his most memorable year was 1995, when he was diagnosed with cancer.
“Back in the day I had money, cars, I had achieved what I wanted to achieve,” he recalled. “And then everything really stopped.”
Mr. T explained that he’d gone into the doctor to get him to look at a “pimple” on his ear. However, it turned out to be a rare form of cancer. The news left the action star feeling “numb” and he called on his faith to help him through the time.
After undergoing radiation treatment and then chemotherapy, Mr. T successfully fought back his cancer, and he thanks God for watching over him.
“It’s easy to say you love God when everything is going good. But bad things happen to good people. My faith was tested and I think I passed the test,” he shared. “I’m 64 years old and a 22-year cancer survivor… I can inspire other people and that’s what I feel my mission is.”
Mr. T and his partner, Kym Herjavec, brought the judges to tears with their dignified waltz set to “Amazing Grace,” and earned a 28 out of 40, which was the couple’s best scores of the season.
Rashad Jennings Embraces His Dad
In a pre-taped package before his dance, Jennings opened up about his formerly tumultuous relationship with his father, who had been a hard drinker when Rashad was growing up and left the athlete feeling very alone as a kid.
However, a watershed moment in their relationship came when Jennings got accepted to college to play football, and had a promising career laid out before him. Around that time, he got a call from his mom informing him that his father had suffered a stroke, and had to get his legs amputated due to complications from diabetes.
In an effort to support his father, Jennings moved back home and put his pro football aspirations on hold to devote his efforts towards helping mend his family. “Being closer to home changed the way me and my father related to one another. My dad got lost at one point, but I never held a grudge against him. It just made me want to be there for him even more.”
Jennings and his partner, Emma Slater performed a contemporary routine to a cover of Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally,” that brought the entire theater to tears. As the powerful performance ended, Jennings walked off the dance floor to hug his wheelchair-bound father in the audience, and the two openly wept as they embraced.
Jennings and Slater earned three 10s and a 9 for a score of 39 out of 40, easily the highest score of the season, and the first 10s won by any couple thus far.
Simone Biles Opens Up About Getting Adopted
The most memorable year in the life of the 20-year-old gymnast could have been when she took home four gold medals during the Olympic games in Rio last year, and everyone would have appreciated it. However, Biles chose something even more moving and emotional — the year she was adopted by her biological grandparents.
“Growing up, my biological mom was suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and she was in and out of jail,” Biles said in an emotional pre-taped package. “I never had mom to run to. But I do remember always being hungry and afraid.”
Biles was sent to foster care when she was three years old, and the only thing that she looked forward to were visits from her grandparents. Eventually, they took her into their home and showered her with love.
“I remember them saying, ‘OK, you know how you called us Grandma and Grandpa? You can call us Mom and Dad now, if you want to,'” Biles recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I can do that.'”
“My parents saved me. They’ve set huge examples of how to treat other people and they’ve been there to support me since day one. There’s nothing I can say to them to thank them enough. Even though there’s no right words, maybe dance will say it for me.”
Biles and her partner, Sasha Farber were able to say a lot with their beautiful Viennese waltz, set to “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin. After their dance, Biles’ parents were welcomed onto the stage, where they all hugged and cried. The pair were rewarded with a formidable 36 out of 40, coming in second behind Jennings and Slater.
Bonner Bolton Relives His Devastating Injury
A little over a year ago, the professional bull rider was thrown while riding and broke a vertebrae in his spine, temporarily paralyzing him, all while his parents and family members looked on in horror.
“I was hoping my greatest fear wasn’t coming true,” Bolton’s dad, Toya Bolton, recalled, choking back tears at the memory of his son’s injury.
“It took me months and months to get my body to work right,” Bolton told his partner, Sharna Burgess, as he cried during rehearsals. “You don’t want to think that life could take that eye of the tiger away from you, but the doctors said, ‘No, we’re never going to release you back to your sport.”
“My dad taught me and my brothers that there’s never a time to quit in life, no matter what it is,” Bolton added. “Every morning I wake up with air in my lungs and light in my eyes, I’ve got all the reason in the world to dance.”
Bolton and Burgess took to the DWTS stage with a whole lot of determination and enthusiasm, along with a foxtrot set to Micheal Buble’s “Feeling Good.” In the impressive dance, the athlete proved just how far he’d come in only a matter of months.
The pair earned a 32 out of 40 for their crowd-pleasing performance, which is also their highest score of the season thus far.
At the end of the show, despite how emotional the episode had been, one star still needed to get sent home. It all came down to Mr. T and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Star Erika Jayne. Ultimately, however, it was Mr. T who got the axe.
The action star was gracious in defeat, joking with hosts Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron, “I said I couldn’t dance, but I’d try. I was surprised you all wanted me… thank you, it was a great experience and I enjoyed myself.”
For a look at some of this season’s most powerful performances, check out the video below.