JR Martinez's Recovery

"Dancing With the Stars" contestant almost lost his life in bomb blast in Iraq.
7:16 | 11/21/11

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Transcript for JR Martinez's Recovery
There are all kinds of heroes viewers of ABC's Dancing With The Stars this season have met a contestant. Whose life story is as compelling as his footwork he's Gerald Martinez those soldiers who is devastating injuries in the Iraq War. Nearly took his life but his remarkable spirit in an unlikely showdown with his mother as he lay in the hospital. Propelled him on the road to recovery. And finally to the dance floor ABC's Deborah Roberts has -- story. He has tango Waltz -- died his. His way to the finals of Dancing With The Stars. He's graced the cover of People Magazine even been named one of its sexiest men alive. Not -- for a guy whose name at first didn't register with dance partner -- -- -- -- enough. -- say they have award entering. Sat -- we each war will grow landed. It was just eight years ago the JR Martinez was this far from the glitz and glamour as humanly possible. Waking up in a hospital bed with nearly half his body charged following a bomb attack in Iraq. I saw my mother -- erratic and in my -- side kind of over me and I picked in my hand as far as I could. And she -- me the rest of the way which we held hands and I said to her. And I told you come back. And come back he did. In large part due to a special bond with a loving single mom from El Salvador. I was always a happy kid and a lot of credit goes to my mother you know for allowing me to just. Be -- kid and enjoy life. Though he longed for father Jose Rene Martinez was a popular teenager who dreamed of playing pro football. And -- world centered around sports and girls. All my life -- up as a young man I heard from people you know he's handsome he had never heard anyone say have a great personality. He's just in the near you did you hear I did my hair grows loved to play it like curly hair -- You know that was my low -- I think you know. -- and injury forced him to rethink his future and of course came. It was a commercial -- -- -- are he enlisted and at nineteen after just three weeks on duty in Iraq. A routine drive in a humvee would change his life forever. They said Martinez it's your -- track and even -- and wore a map process -- not at war at one hand and stairwell. The window was halfway down and you down drive and as if I'm driving down Sunset Boulevard vehicle vehicle -- nineteen years old. -- the unspeakable. -- The books. Everything just slowed. I felt this wave of flight four except power energy just started at my feet and in literally working its way through my body. The next thing I remember is. Being pinned inside the vehicle I can see my hands completely change. -- but now team yet. I can see my hands my skin you know slowly just kind of deteriorating. I can see my hands -- generally that you mean quite honestly only see in movies. I was an attack. He would spend nearly three years. Undergoing 33 excruciating. Cosmetic and skin graft surgeries. That was -- the real war was about to start after it came out of my car being taken to that the shower. And then literally having to scratch my back home. It was even more painful than. -- I was trapped inside the truck in my apartment without. I would literally plead with donors. And I would say why are you doing this to what have -- done to -- to deserve such punishment. Just three weeks after his arrival he demanded that his nurse give him a mirror. I pushed him or away and started -- -- for a week after us how my face. I barely spoke and into my mother loved her. -- -- -- Then 1 morning the power of a strong willed mother would change everything. This is my -- exact words. -- a -- set on them -- -- penis. In Spanish fast my -- me. I'm scared he said I know exactly which problem is -- my response there was like -- punitive and said you're probably -- -- you worried about girls. Simple moment of honesty. JR found the courage to face his new uncertain life but why did -- have to be -- Happening in 2008. He heard of the casting call for real life veterans to play the role of -- Monroe. Black war hero on ABC's All My Children when you've got to crawl. We should think. With a nervous but. I look at this as an opportunity for me to raise awareness of veterans they're friendly -- that they face. To put -- face to beauty. And in turn old -- you know genuine beauty. Audiences loved him and what was meant to be a short three month gig became a three year -- It is and even more rewarding JR met Diana Jones and executive assistant on the -- -- We talked to each other about everything we -- -- and finally. It has got to a point where my feelings started changing. And I just kinda went dead just surprised and dissenting did we haven't seen me in a different way -- more than a friend you know and can the pelican she would be a different way in Jesus -- can't stop that -- -- -- adulthood and. But soon Diana's feelings intensified. I just out of the can definitely -- like I've been searching for this great guy in all these great Eisen had been -- next to me this whole time. -- you insecure were you worried at all about whether she would be. Interested in new. Yet I mean I think I think I had that concern when he came to you kiss a girl for the first time with burns there's issue in the case. You know -- -- and be disgusted by the first time. You know you expose you know you're burns on your body you know today personality. Not come back the following day but they have to say I knew she looked at me on a deeper level. When you see JR. What do you see now and -- -- -- that he is handsome and I love I mean I don't. That's -- CAC a great guy you know I see the man that I love. A man who's taken his -- to new heights on the dance floor. With his one woman cheering squad right there are you nervous for -- you just excited what you feel and excited. I'm not nervous when he -- his mind something he just excels at it he can in my eyes do anything even watching the competition is like. He's gonna win. RNC. Any Enron -- three billion. Tomorrow night JR Martinez may very well be named -- champion. But to so many he already is one. I'm Deborah Roberts for Nightline in -- -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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