Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin has had a year full of triumphs and joy: his Vegas residency and his succesful concerts on both sides of the Atlantic; his return to acting in Versace: American Crime Story; and the stability he has found with his fiancé Jwan Yosef. But 2017 also brought an unexpected challenge: stepping up as one of the most visible faces of the humanitarian efforts to help rebuild Puerto Rico and Mexico after the natural disasters of September.
Ricky managed to raise several million dollars for the victims of Hurricane Maria and the Mexican earthquake, along with getting on the ground in both places, personally delivering aid along with a hug and his famous smile. All of that made him HOLA! USA’s first Humanitarian of the Year, an honor that has him gracing the cover of the December issue of our magazine.
And even though Ricky’s humanitarian résumé is well known —his foundation to combat human trafficking is more than a decade old— this last episode has a very special component: his children Matteo and Valentino. The singer shared that it was one of these nine-year-old twins who gave him the biggest inspiration to create and rebuild after Maria.
“I got depressed when I saw how fragile my little island was,” says the singer, who will turn 46 in December. “I went into the shower to cry. It was a heartbreaking cry, but I could have gone from the shower to the bed; I could have stayed in bed three days. I dried up and went to my north: I went to my kids.”
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After telling them what had happened to the people on the island, he had only one question for his little ones: "What would you like to do?" One of the twins didn’t hesitate: "Papi, I want to break my piggy bank. I want to give it all." That loving offer —the product of the empathy Ricky says he teaches at home— made him feel like the most powerful of superheroes.
“Superman has got nothing on me because my kids gave me that perspective,” he says. “They don’t know what they did for me. Maybe they’ll find out now and will read about it when they are big. They’ll understand what they did for me. If they gave up their piggy bank, then I have to give mine.” “These tragedies will bring out many, many heroes,” the eternally optimistic Ricky says. “There are many heroes out in the streets. And those who never did anything are doing it now.”
WATCH RICKY TEAR UP DISCUSSING HIS ISLAND AND HIS KIDS' PHILANTHROPIC WAYS
To read the complete interview, buy a copy of the December issue of HOLA! USA, or subscribe here