Aw, Maksim Chmerkovskiy was so adorable in high school!
The fan-favorite, rugged 36-year-old dance pro, choreographer and former Dancing With the Stars cast member posted on his Instagram page Friday a yearbook photo, showing him smiling and looking very clean-cut, complete with a short, somewhat floppy haircut with a side part. Maksim was part of the class of 1997 at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn.
But his picture was accompanied by a bittersweet story.
"The 17-year-old in this #tbt is smiling, but if you look closely you'll see that his eyes are not..." he wrote.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
"I was so focused on making it, I had no time for yearbook pictures, proms or any other graduation festivities," he said. "I didn't even go to my graduation because I was working. I knew exactly what I wanted my life to be and our father taught us that the only way of getting there was lots and lots of work."
Maksim, who has competed on 14 out of Dancing With the Stars' past 21 seasons, started dancing at the age of 6 in his native Ukraine. He and his family, including brother and Dancing With the Stars pro Val Chmerkovskiy, emigrating to the United States in 1994, at 14 ago. Maksim and their father, Alex, then opened their own dance studio, Rising Stars Dance Academy, The New York Times reported.
"I've worked.....and worked....and worked...." Maksim wrote on Instagram. "I worked since I was 14 years old and I'm still nowhere near where I want to be. So, when, after a life of such monumental efforts, someone threatens what I've built....well....I do whatever I have to. I'll never give up on my dreams and I will not let ANYONE stand in my way! #dontletasmilefoolyou."