J.R. Martinez Inspires People Across the Country

J.R. Martinez Inspires People Across the Country

It's what courage is all about—an infectious smile and unfailing optimism despite devastating tragedy.

War hero J.R. Martinez, the surprise frontrunner on Dancing with the Stars, is now on the cover of the new People magazine.

People magazine's Jen Garcia told INSIDE EDITION, "He just has such an inspiring story and he's gone from this little-known actor to someone everyone knows."

Martinez's athleticism and charisma have endeared him to the judges and millions of Americans.

Backstage at Dancing with the Stars, Martinez told INSIDE EDITION, "There's a lot of people pulling for us and there's a lot of people excited about us the way we're excited about our possibilities and the potential that we have to really go far in this competition."

His partner, Karina Smirnoff, says Martinez is like a breath of fresh air.

"Every time we go into the studio, it's like, yeah!" said Smirnoff.

Producers on All My Children also fell in love with all that positive energy, casting him as a regular on the now cancelled soap opera, even though he had zero acting experience.

And on a personal note, Martinez is a friend of INSIDE EDITION's Deborah Norville. They're from the same hometown of Dalton, Georgia.

Martinez used to look like a handsome high school linebacker who joined the Army to serve his country. A 2003 landmine explosion in Iraq burned half his body. He also lost his left ear.

Martinez said, "We just wanted to remind America and the world that we're men and women who serve in our military every single day and make a sacrifice."

He decided to devote his life to inspiring other wounded veterans.

"He goes to bases. He goes to hospitals. So he really does amazing things with his life," said Garcia.

Now, thanks to Dancing with the Stars, the rest of the nation has grown to admire Martinez, just like his hometown has.