J.R. Martinez Gets Standing Ovation on DWTS for Emotional War Tribute

Entertainment Oct. 3, 2011 AT 10:43PM
J.R. Martinez Gets Standing Ovation on DWTS for Emotional War Tribute Credit: Allen Berezovsky/FilmMagic

Monday was an emotional night on Dancing with the Stars -- with celeb contestants basing their routines on the most meaningful year of their lives.

Chaz Bono danced to his late father Sonny Bono's own "Son of a Gun," Chynna Phillips dazzled to the strains of her deeply personal Wilson Philips classic "Hold On," Ricki Lake recalled the past year (her house burned down, she became engaged again) and David Arquette looked back on the past year (his separation from Courteney Cox, his mental breakdown and rehab stay) in a moving tribute to daughter Coco.

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But it was J.R. Martinez who really brought the house down. The Iraqi war veteran turned soap star, 33, looked back on the year he was seriously injured -- and disfigured -- while serving in Iraq.

Now 33, Martinez admitted he "just froze" when he saw his new face for the first time. "My life was turned completely upside down...[Sometimes I wondered] if my life would have been been better off if I had not survived...When the lights where off, I just cried."

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It was a pep talk from his mom that changed everything, he said. "She told me..whoever was gonna be in my life was gonna be in my life because of who I am as a person, now what I looked like," he explained. "That moment, I chose to fight and try to be positive every single moment on."

His dance with partner Karina Smirnoff -- the war-inspired Tim McGraw ballad, "If You're Reading This" -- was "a tribute to the men and women that didn't make it home," Martinez explained.

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After the emotional, masterful routine, the pair received a standing ovation, lots of tears, and a score of 26 out of 30 points.

"That was one of the most profound dances that we have ever seen," judge Carrie Ann Inaba raved.

Praised Len Goodman: "You are an inspiration to us all."

Tell Us: Which was your favorite dance of the night?

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