J.R. Martinez: Tissue Recipient, Hero, Dancer

Dream big. Never quit. Stay positive. Just six little words. But to tissue recipient J.R. Martinez, these are anything but “little” words. They are words to live by — words he lives by daily.

J.R. Martinez is famous for playing Brot Monroe on the former All My Children ABC daytime drama and is currently in the spotlight for his cool moves on the 13th season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. J.R. has wowed the audience, judges, and viewers of this popular competition not only with his fancy footwork, but also in how he approaches every situation with a positive outlook.

J.R. describes himself as a son, a soldier, and a survivor. It was during his time as a soldier that the man who inspires everyone he comes into contact with emerged out of the trauma and pain he suffered.

In 2003, while a soldier in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq, J.R. drove over a land mine in his Army Humvee. He suffered smoke inhalation damage to his lungs and was severely burned over 40% of his body. When it happened, he was in a great deal of pain and saw no future. “I honestly thought it would be better if I hadn’t survived the accident,” he said. J.R. spent 34 months in recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts made possible by tissue donation.

He was deeply depressed and uncertain about his future, but he made a key decision: “I made a choice that I was going to get through every single day. And the answer would come to me, and it did.” That answer came when he was asked by a nurse to speak to another burn patient. He helped that patient change their outlook and discovered his calling in life – to help others.

“The way I see it, I was given second chance, and not a lot of people get a second chance in life … so I want people to understand certain things that I’ve learned in a second chance on how to make their first chance that much more meaningful”.

Be sure to watch J.R. strut his stuff tonight (8 p.m.) and tomorrow night (9 p.m.) live on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. The competition is getting intense, but we have a feeling J.R. can make it to the top!