While Val Chmerkovskiy took just third place with his partner Kelly Monaco at Tuesday night's Dancing With the Stars finale, a clear statement was made.
Val finally made it to the top-tier DWTS world alongside his famous brother Maks whose personality, looks and frequent controversy have dominated the show for the last 7 1/2 years.
"I was someone's younger sibling and I finally have my own voice and my own spotlight," Val said on Monday night, before going into the finals.
Val has been on the show for three seasons, leaving early in the competition with partners such as model Elisabetta Canalis and talk show host Sherri Shepherd - nothing remarkable despite a stellar dance career away from DWTS.
But he hit his stride with Monaco, training the General Hospital star into better form than in Season 1, when she took home the mirror ball trophy.
"Kelly is the one who showed the improvement this season," said Maks. "It's so clear a difference between the Kelly in the first season and the Kelly now. It's all a testament to how amazing of a coach Val has become. That's what I'm most proud of. He's always been a great dancer and performer. But the viewers and producers have seen what he can do as a coach."
As Val performed onstage Monday night, Maks was a nervous figure backstage, watching the monitors with intensity and fist-pumping at the judges scores despite his allegiance and friendship to eventual winner Tony Dovolani. After watching the show Monday, Maks nervously joked that he "needed a drink" to calm down.
"Val and I have a very special relationship even as brothers," said Maks. "I've never seen such a close relationship."
On Tuesday night, Maks was still the proud brother even though Val didn't hoist the mirror ball trophy. "I'm ecstatic beyond belief for Tony, this was deserved," said Maks. "But if Val had won, this would have been a celebration for the ages. I think he will soon."
But Maks disagrees that Val ever had to step out from Maks' own DWTS celebrity.
"He was never in my shadow," said Maks. "Val has more talent than anyone I have ever met. More determination. He's an incredibly hard worker. He's a star of his own. He's always been a star. People are just seeing it from my perspective."