Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy struggled after coming to America

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Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy may be fan favorites on the hit show "Dancing with the Stars," but their journey to stardom wasn't always easy.

The brothers told People magazine that when they came to New York from Ukraine, they were bullied for their accents.

"We had challenges," Val said. "But we never let it chip away at the gratitude we felt for the opportunities we had."

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Maks said he was mugged for Rollerblades on just his second day in Brooklyn and the brothers recalled that, within eight months of living in America, their family's savings were gone. That didn't stop them from making the best of their situation. Maks opened his first dance studio when he was 16 and both brothers proceeded to make name for themselves in the dancing world.

"I've never felt like this country owed me anything. If anything, I am forever in debt to this country," Val said. "I'm very aware of the political rhetoric surrounding immigrants right now, but they come here to contribute and are the backbone of this country -- and that's why we are the mega-power we are."

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