J.R. Martinez is an actor, bestselling author, motivational speaker, advocate, and wounded U.S. Army veteran. In March of 2003, J.R. was deployed to Iraq. On April 5, he was driving a Humvee in Karbala when his left front tire hit a roadside bomb. The three other soldiers were ejected from the burning vehicle, but J.R. was trapped inside. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to over 30 percent of his body. J.R. was evacuated to a local medic station for immediate care before spending 34 months in recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC/SAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. He has undergone 34 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery, in the years since his injury.
After recovering from his war injuries, J.R. persevered in life by landing a role on All My Children; a daytime drama. After All My Children ran its final season, J.R. went on to surprise and inspire a nation on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Along with partner Karina Smirnoff, he won the coveted mirrorball trophy, and they were named Season 13 champions.
Martinez has since become a highly sought-after motivational speaker. He travels the world spreading his message of resilience and optimism, and devotes himself to showing others the true value of making the most of every situation. J.R.’s story is unique, but his message is universal: your path in life is decided by your own ability to adapt and overcome.