J.R. Martinez, the 2002 Dalton High School graduate who was injured while serving in Iraq in 2003, has been cast in the next season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which holds its season premiere on Sept. 19.
Martinez has played “Brot Monroe” for the past three years on the daytime soap opera “All My Children.”
During Monday night’s unveiling of this season’s dance celebrities, Martinez was asked what appearing on the show means to him.
“I just want people to take away that no matter what war or battle you are fighting through, (with) positive thinking and a positive attitude, you can overcome,” he said. “I think all of us up here will prove that to the 40 million that watch this show. We are going to push ourselves to go beyond what we thought was possible.”
Martinez was driving a Humvee in Iraq in 2003 when its left front tire struck a land mine. The explosion caused severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. Martinez endured 34 months in the hospital and 33 surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
During and after his recovery, Martinez became a motivational speaker and shares his story with scores of fellow wounded veterans throughout the country. He has appeared on a number of shows to tell his story, including "Oprah" and "60 Minutes."
Martinez was born in Shreveport, La., and moved to Hope, Ariz., where he and his mother lived until he was 17. They moved to Dalton just prior to his senior year of high school.
In 2008, Martinez landed the role on “All My Children.” The role was originally slated to run just three months, but the character proved to be popular and Martinez was kept on.
ABC announced earlier this year that “All My Children” would be canceled, with the last episode running in September. But producers are reportedly in negotiations to continue the show on the Internet.
Other members of the new cast of "Dancing with the Stars" are basketball star Ron Artest; World Cup soccer player Hope Solo; reality stars Robert Kardashian, Kristin Cavallari and Chaz Bono; TV personalities Nancy Grace, Carson Kressley and Ricki Lake; singer-actress Chynna Phillips; actor David Arquette; and Italian actress Elisabetta Canalis, who may be better known in the United States for being George Clooney’s ex-girlfriend.
Ryan O’Neal was set to join the cast, but his publicist said the actor had not yet fully recovered from recent knee-replacement surgery.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.