J.R. Martinez Recalls Emotional Journey to Recovery in New Memoir (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

In ‘Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit,’ former Marine J.R. Martinez recounts his incredible road to recovery after the Humvee he was driving in Iraq struck an IED and left over 34 percent of his body severely burned.

Speaking to Celebuzz, the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ champ, now 29, says writing the book ultimately helped him to appreciate his 10-year journey.

“I wanted to show everyone that has come to know me through ‘Dancing with the Stars’ — they see the guy who’s smiling and happy all the time, the guy that has scars and was in the military. I wanted to show people more than that. Yeah, I’m smiling. But it isn’t always smiles; it always hasn’t been that way. I wanted people to see the things I overcame and my relationship with my mother.”

In the book, Martinez writes that the pain he suffered from the explosion was so intense, he wanted to die.

“The majority of burn survivors agree on this: The pain that you feel during the recovery process is more gruesome than the moment you were injured,” he said. “At times, the pain is intolerable and there’s only pain medication that you can take that can help you with it.”

He also says he cried the first time he saw himself after the accident.

“Growing up I was the handsome boy, I was the pretty boy,” he said. “Girls would talk to me because they thought I was attractive — and I was! Then when I saw my face the first time I was like, ‘What the hell? How am I going to live like this? I’m no longer that guy.’

“I cried, I was angry, I was depressed,” Martinez, who spent 34 months in recovery, added. “I would literally tell my mother that it would have been better if they had left me on that truck.”

Since the attack, which occurred in 2003 when he just 19 years old, Martinez has gone on to find major success, both professionally and personally. In addition to winning ‘Dancing WIth the Stars’ and writing his own book, Martinez has acted on ‘All My Children’ and become a motivational speaker.

He’s also a father to his seven-month-old daughter, Lauryn Anabelle Martinez.

“It’s amazing,” Martinez said of his experience being a dad. “She’s seven months old. It’s amazing how with a simple smile everything is ok. She just smiles and suddenly everything is ok.”

Still, Martinez admits that despite his positive persona, he still has bad days like the rest of us.

“I definitely have my moments,” he said. “They come when people expect me to be J.R. Martinez all the time. I tell people, ‘I’m human. I get annoyed by things.’ I have moments when I don’t want to be around people all the time. If I’m in an airport sometimes I want to be by myself because maybe that’s the only moment alone I have.”

“It’s important for me to vent,” he said. “I can talk to my mom or my girlfriend [Diana Ganzales-Jones ] and they’ll just listen and guide me through it.”

For more on Martinez’s memoir, visit his official website.

– Written by Nicki Gostin

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