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Maks Chmerkovskiy Says Brother Val’s ‘Scary’ Nerve Impingement Meant He Couldn’t Hold Newborn Son (Exclusive)

Maks Chmerkovskiy is looking back at his brother Val Chmerkovskiy’s “very scary” neck injury that left him unable to hold his newborn baby, son Rome.

“Val did have a massive situation where, right around the time when Rome was born, he had a really serious neck impingement that stemmed from his previous season … to where it was just ‘go, go, go’ and no rehab, and you kind of go on injured and whiplash, but kind of on the back burner because we’re trying to win here,” Maks, 44, exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, February 27.

Val, 37, had a nerve impingement in the middle of season 31 when he was partnered with former Bachelorette Gabby Windey. His wife, Jenna Johnson, sat out the Dancing With the Stars season due to her pregnancy with Rome. She gave birth in January 2023.

According to Maks, Val “lost feelings in his arm [in] full” that January. The three-time DWTS champ’s muscles had atrophied and “everything shut down.” Val never publicly disclosed his injury at the time, remaining focused on the DWTS competition. (He and Windey, 33, ultimately finished in second place.)

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“He had a nerve impingement that completely shut down one of his arms, and so he lost feeling in his arms,” Maks recalled to Us. “He lost all strength in his arm and now has a newborn that he can’t hold. … It was just a devastatingly, shockingly terrifying moment.”

Maks Chmerkovskiy Says Brother Val s Massive Nerve Impingement Meant He Couldn t Hold Newborn Son 119
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic ; Courtesy of Jenna Johnson/Instagram

Maks had witnessed his brother grapple with his injury firsthand.

“He was in the gym with me because we’re getting ready for what ended up being Savor After Hours, our stage show in Napa Valley that we put on during the summer, and we were just kind of getting back in shape,” Maks said. “We were back in it and we’re kind of working, and then this happened. Next thing you know, he’s in surgery for neck fusion in three places and … he can’t move his neck. And next thing we’re like, ‘Are you going to dance again? Can we even say that?’”

Maks further explained that Val’s situation “worked out for [the] absolute best” thanks to an “incredible” team of doctors.

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“He had a surgeon in Utah through Jenna’s family relationships and connections. Thank God for that,” Maks said. “So he’s back, and we are in rehearsal and we worked the entire summer as if nothing ever happened.”

Maks reiterated that Val’s surgery was “a very scary moment” for the entire family.

“It was very tough for my mom especially, and obviously for Jenna, and obviously for his family and all of us devastated,” he said. “But yeah, you never want to see that. It was crazy.”

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Val continued dancing after he recovered from surgery, going on to win DWTS season 32 with Xochitl Gomez in fall 2023. “It was just an unbelievable year. He did an incredible job,” Maks gushed.

Maks, meanwhile, is also gearing up for a memorable year as he will join the So You Think You Can Dance judging panel next month.

“It has been a pinch-me moment,” Maks said on Tuesday. “I think I’m in the right place at the right time on the heels of 20-plus years of professional stage performing [in] productions, TV mistakes, successes, ups and downs. I’ve done it all and I feel like I have a lot to offer in a mentoring capacity.”

He continued, “It’s a lot of responsibility, in my mind, and I try to deliver. … We’re not really focusing on [crowning] the best dancer. We’re focusing on the best all-around, most hireable person.”

So You Think You Can Dance premieres on Fox Monday, March 4, at 9 p.m. ET.

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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