The former Olympic figure skater broke down in tears while talking about her relationship with her father prior to the MVP portion of her dance on Monday's episode of the ABC dancing competition, during which she and partner Sasha Farber performed a rumba to "See You Again" by Tyler Ward.
"I lost my dad nine years ago. When I lost my dad, I lost my very best friend," Harding told the cameras. "I was definitely daddy's little girl. My dad just gave me 100 percent unconditional love."
She also addressed her father's departure from her family home, saying, "He never abandoned me. We talked every single day; he would come to my competitions; he was always there for me. He loved my little girl, and I love him."
She then referenced the infamous 1994 attack on Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan (who competed on season 24 of Dancing With the Stars), where she was clubbed on the knee by an attacker during practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
It was soon determined that the attack was arranged by Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, along with Shawn Eckardt and his friend Derrick Smith, who drove the getaway car. Gillooly and Eckhart pleaded guilty to racketeering for their involvement in the attack.
Harding, 47, denied having any involvement or knowledge of the attack, but pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution. She was required to pay a $160,000 fine and was sentenced to three years’ probation and 500 hours community service. She was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.
"When everyone in the world was against me, my dad was still in my corner," Harding said Monday. "No matter what."
She then lamented the milestones her father never got to witness, tears spilling down her face. "He never got to meet my husband, he never got to see me have a son," she said. "And to see me here, he would be crying like me."
Prior to going on-stage, she sent a message to her father. "Dad, I love you, I miss you, and this dance is for you."
After the dance, which earned rave reviews from the judges, Harding opened up to Erin Andrews about what being voted through to the finale would mean to her.
"It would mean the world to me that I had that chance and I made it," she said. "Whether I win or not, that doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm here and having a wonderful time and I don't want to leave."
Dancing With the Stars will air its finale Monday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo credit: ABC