This week’s Dancing with the Stars was an emotional one across the board.

On Monday, pro Maks Chmerkovskiy put on his dancing shoes to compete with partner Vanessa Lachey in a routine commemorating her most memorable year — one week after missing last week’s show after sources told PEOPLE the two had hit a rough patch.

Lachey, 36, chose 2017 as the most impactful year of her life, breaking down in tears as she revealed that she underwent an emergency surgery when her son, Phoenix Robert, arrived 10 weeks early in December. (His due date was sometime in spring 2017.)

Lachey and Chmerkovskiy, 37, earned a 24 out of 30 for their emotional rumba, and the dance pro later took to Instagram to pen a sweet note to his partner.

“Everything I ever want for my partners is literally what @vanessalachey has brought to the dance floor last night. Raw, unapologetic, real emotion expressed through a beautiful dance,” he wrote. “Yesterday also marked the first time when I completely lost it right before the dance … I rarely cry but this was something different, something I’ve yet to experience watching someone else’s story.”

“I’m proud of you partner!” he continued. “They can say what they want but you’re a star and I wouldn’t want to be on this rollercoaster with anyone but you! And we have so many more of these moments to share with each other, and everyone else who couldn’t stop their tears… #teamBabiesAndBallroom #DWTS #NeverADullMoment.”

Last week, DWTS co-host Erin Andrews informed viewers that Chmerkovskiy’s absence was due to “a personal issue,” but sources told PEOPLE that the DWTS pro, 37, and Lachey, 36, had been “bickering” since the beginning of the competition, and that he chose to sit …read more


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