Before the start of “Dancing with the Stars” this season, J.R. Martinez may have been a relative unknown to most Americans. But now he’s gracing the cover of People magazine, after winning the hearts of millions in two short months on ABC’s hit celebrity ballroom dancing competition.
“I’m being blessed in so many ways, and it’s because of the energy I’m putting out in the world,” says the wounded-war-veteran-turned-soap-star, who survived an explosion in Iraq while serving in the U.S. Army in 2003.
In People’s latest cover story, the 28-year-old “All My Children” actor says he considers himself blessed to have experienced the trauma. If he hadn’t driven his Humvee over that land mine, “My life would not be what it is today: full of joy, happiness and positivity,” says the El Salvadoran-American war hero.
The blast may have burned more than 40-percent of his body and required more than 30 cosmetic and skin graft surgeries, but it also taught him to embrace life to the fullest. Martinez’s positive attitude and killer ballroom dancing skills have led him to the top of the leaderboard on “Dancing with the Stars” and straight into America’s hearts.
“When you show people who you really are and you’re genuine, you don’t have to force positivity,” says Martinez, who is confident with the man he’s become. “I’m not your typical person walking down the street. I’m cool with being different.”
For the complete story on this inspiring hero, make sure to pick up this week’s issue of People.