At 28 years old, Dancing with the Stars
contestant J.R. Martinez has already lived multiple lives. One of them ended when he was 19 after he survived a horrific explosion while deployed in Iraq.
"I'm blessed that I walked away with only 40-percent burns," J.R. told ET's Samantha Harris. "I'm blessed that I'm here -- that I have a second chance at life."
On April 5, 2003, J.R.'s humvee ran over a landmine in Iraq that almost completely demolished the vehicle. While there were a total of four soldiers onboard, J.R. -- the driver -- was the only one trapped inside as the other three passengers were thrown clear. J.R. was also the only one wearing his seatbelt.
"It amazes me, even now when I think about it, how quickly everything changed," said J.R., who explained that the humvee burned upside down for 10 minutes with him stuck inside. "One minute I was laughing ... The next minute I remember feeling this slow pressure, starting from my feet, work its way through my body."
Since the accident, J.R. has developed a magnetic and inspiring personality, and has subsequently booked a few choice gigs in Hollywood. In 2008, J.R. began his run on the ABC soap All My Children, and this year he joined the season 13 cast of Dancing with the Stars.
J.R. and his pro partner Karina Smirnoff moved Dancing's live audience to tears during their performance on October 3, which was a dance interpretation of the veteran's accident in war.
"I really believe that all of us are story tellers," said J.R. "The great thing about this competition is that it's teaching me how to [tell a story] with my body and with music."
You can catch J.R. on an all-new Dancing with the Stars Monday on ABC. Watch the video for more.