Synopses & Reviews
An inspirational journey from tragedy to triumph
In 2003, nineteen-year-old Private J.R. Martinez was on a routine patrol when the Humvee he was driving hit an antitank mine in Iraq, resulting in severe injuries and burns on his face and more than one-third of his body. Out of that tragedy came an improbable journey of inspiration, motivation, and dreams come true. In Full of Heart
, Martinez shares his story in intimate detail, from his upbringing in the American South and his time in the Army to his recovery and the indomitable spirit that has made him an inspiration to countless fans.
J.R. Martinez always had a strong spirit. Raised in Bossier City, Louisiana, and then Hope, Arkansas, by a single mother from El Salvador, he was well known at school for his good looks and his smart mouth. At seventeen, showing an early determination and drive that would become one of his trademark qualities, J.R. convinced his mom to move to Dalton, Georgia, where he believed he would have a better chance of being recruited to play college football. His positive attitude earned him a spot on a competitive high school football squad, but when his college dreams collapsed, he turned to the U.S. Army. A few months later, he found himself serving in Iraq.
When J.R.’s humvee hit a mine and exploded—just one month into his deployment—he was immediately evacuated to a San Antonio medical center, where he spent the next thirty-four months in grueling recovery. Seeing his disfigured face for the first time after the accident threw him into a crushing period of confusion and anger. His spirits were low, until he was asked to speak to another young burn victim. J.R. realized how valuable and gratifying it was to share his experiences with other patients and listen to theirs. He’d found a calling.
His fellow soldiers, along with the local and then national media, soon latched onto J.R.’s spirit and strength. His resilience, optimism, and charm were also noted by Hollywood and scored him roles on All My Children and Dancing with the Stars, where he was the season thirteen champion.
Today, J.R. tours the country sharing his story and his lessons for overcoming challenges and embracing hope, lessons that abound in this book. Full of Heart is an unforgettable story of a man who never gave up on his dreams.
After being injured in Iraq, J.R. Martinez became a motivational speaker, actor, and winner of season thirteen of Dancing with the Stars. Martinez lives in Los Angeles
"TV star Martinez's heartwarming memoir tells of his transformation from cocky, underprivileged kid to wounded soldier to household name.As a wet-behind-the-ears soldier in Iraq in 2003, he drove his Humvee over an anti-tank mine. In the blast, he writes, 'My uniform had melted into my skin.... Parts of my swollen face were scorched black.'He describes the long painful journey back to health, including plastic surgery for his disfigured face. And in 2007, 'the world of make-believe calling' All My Children looking for an Iraqi war vet. Recently, he has become a father with a renewed sense of purpose.Part luck and part destiny, Martinez's story of triumph over tragedy is related with humility, humor, and love.Part of Martinez's appeal is that he doesn't take his fame and success for granted. Readers will find it impossible not to love him, with somegrateful reflections on their own lives in between. 16 pages of b&w photos. Agent: Robert Guinsley, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.) A Moment. Master Photographers: Portraits by Michael Somoroff. Michael Somoroff and William A. Ewing, preface by Julian Sander Damiani (D.A.P., dist.), (118p) ISBN 978-88-6208-211-2 These black-and-white studio portraits by Somoroff provide an intimate study of some important photographers from the mid-20th century. The photographers are of a particular milieu and aesthetic, and Somoroff's skillful portraiture suggests a piousness as much for that moment in time as for the individual artists. They are European and American fashion photographers, documentarians of daily life, and photojournalists, all helping in their own way to earn photography its place in the fine art world. Somoroff elegiacally approaches this historical moment, which he defines by analogue work and studio craft, both celebrating and mourning a time when 'we invested ourselves more faithfully in the process of things.' He recollects immersing himself in his father's studio as a child and continuing a lineage of classical style and technique gifted to him by the community featured within the book. The reverence of the portraiture often relies on an idealized familiarity with and respect for the subjects. However, the enthusiasm of a young artist fortunate enough to capture images of his heroes is at times enchanting, while portraits of Mary Ellen Mark and Helmut Newton are treats, offering a sincere and personal glimpse both of the photographers themselves and of Somoroff's enduring awe. Color and b&w illus. (Oct)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
As the Baltimore Ravens made their improbable march to victory in Super Bowl XLVII, they turned to their senior advisor of player development, O.J. Brigance, for inspiration each and every Sunday.
Following a stellar twelve-year career as a linebacker, including a Super Bowl win with Baltimore in 2000, O.J. Juice” Brigance joined the Ravens front office. But in 2007, O.J. was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosisalso known as Lou Gehrigs diseaseand told he had only three to five years to live. As a player, hed battled hundreds of injuries and setbacks. None of them prepared him to face ALS.
With faith and determination in his heart and his wife, Chanda, praying by his side, O.J. fought back against the debilitating disease, even as ALS robbed him of the ability to walk and speak. He kept working, smiling, and touching his players lives all the way through their remarkable Super Bowl runmore than five years after his diagnosis.
Now, O.J. shares his incredible story, offering lessons in resilience and reflecting on the championship team that inspired him in turn. Along with his own journey, O.J. recounts the struggles and successes of Ravens players, including Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, and Torrey Smith, as well as the strength of head coach John Harbaugh. Having watched their season from the best seat in the house, O.J. highlights their perseverance, confidence, and leadership, and the best that sports can bring out in people.
Full of profound revelations and never-before-told anecdotes, Strength of a Champion is a celebration of the human spirit from a man who left everything on the field. O.J. Brigance never asked to be a hero. Thats what makes his story so courageous.
About the Author
is currently the senior adviser of player development for the Baltimore Ravens. He created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to raise awareness and funding for ALS research and patient services.
Peter Schrager is the senior national writer for FOXSports.com and the sports correspondent for FOX Report Weekend. Hes the coauthor of Victor Cruzs New York Times bestselling memoir, Out of the Blue.