Retired Marine Cpl. Alex Minsky’s life took an unexpected turn this year as he sat on a couch next to Barbara Walters, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy during an appearance on the television show The View. While he’d been awarded the Purple Heart, he did not garner this attention for his military service. The reason he was invited to appear on the show was his recent success as a fashion model.
“I never thought in a million years that I would become a model,” Minsky said during a shoot in Los Angeles. “Even before the accident, it was never one of my goals.”
Minsky’s journey from the battlefield to the runway could be straight out of a Hollywood movie. On June 1, 2009, just three weeks into his first tour in Afghanistan, his Humvee ran over a roadside bomb. His bottom jaw was broken in four different places, he suffered devastating injuries to his arm, and his right leg was severed just below the knee. Doctors told his mother, Jackie, that Alex had suffered a traumatic brain injury and would probably not survive. If he did, they said, his life would never be the same.
Minsky pulled through, but he had severe depression and turned to drinking. He later found a positive way to cope, however: hitting the gym. On his second day of sobriety, a photographer named Tom Cullis approached him during one of his workouts and asked whether he’d ever consider modeling. Minsky was not immediately receptive, but Cullis persisted, and Minsky eventually relented.
Over the next year, Minsky’s test shots went viral. His Facebook fan page boasts more than 250,000 followers, more than Simon Nessman and Sean O’Pry, the industry’s top moneymaking models, combined. And the fashion world has noticed.
“The thing about Alex is that his amputation doesn’t define him,” said Eythor Bender, CEO of UNYQ, a company that prints custom prosthetic covers using 3D printing technology. Minsky is now modeling UNYQ’s covers, known as fairings.
“I’ve watched him take magazine interviews,” added Bender, “and the fact that he’s missing a foot doesn’t even make the fine print of his story.”
Minsky recently participated as a model at this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York for Art Hearts Fashion Spring/Summer 2015 looks.