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At age 13, he broke his right leg in a skiing accident and had a titanium rod put in to stabilize his leg.
Doctors foresaw long-term difficulties and little possibility of a dancing career; however, he recovered and was dancing again six months later.
He eventually became a professional Latin Ballroom dancer, with the details of the recovery from the accident presented on a 2010 episode of the television show Celebrity Ghost Stories.
The family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York in 1994.
Moving to the United States also gave Chmerkovskiy the opportunity to rededicate himself do dance.