HOPE – War veteran, actor, television personality, motivational speaker and former Hope High School Bobcat J. R. Martinez recently made a sentimental journey back to Hope and HHS.
Martinez’s wife contacted HHS Principal Bill Hoglund, explaining her husband was in Little Rock on business and was anxious to see how HHS and Hope have changed since he left when his family moved to Georgia in 2001.
Hoglund offered a tour and a trip down memory lane, and Martinez, who was known as Jose Martinez then, readily accepted.
“I had to come back and see what it looked like,” Martinez said. “There are so many good memories here.”
The tour was also documented for use in Martinez’s YouTube blog.
Former coaches, including HHS Dean of Students Sam Bradford, and Bobcat teammates, including current HHS social studies teacher Zach Hoglund, added to the memories as Martinez learned how HHS has evolved since he left in 2001.
“I grew up as an only child because my two sisters, Consuelo and Anabel, were raised in El Salvador with my mother’s family,” Martinez relates on his website.
He and his mother moved to Hope when he was nine years old. The move to Georgia came prior to his senior year at HHS. Martinez later joined the U. S. Army and served in Iraq, where he was severely injured and burned in a roadside bomb attack on his unit’s vehicle.
“I had over 34 different surgeries including multiple skin grafts and cosmetic surgeries,” Martinez said.
He used his recovery from the brush with death to hone a message which he has taken as a motivational speaker to numerous Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations and universities. Along the way, he was also cast in a three-year recurring role on television’s “All My Children” and won the Season 13 championship of the popular “Dancing with the Stars” competition, after which he was honored as Grand Marshall of the 2012 Rose Bowl Parade.
Martinez has since become a best-selling author, and married in 2018. He and his wife, Diana, live in Austin, Texas, with their daughter Lauryn Anabelle.