Enrique first released the song to radio in late November 2001 to a positive critical and commercial reception. After the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, the song was one of the few songs chosen by Radio DJs in New York to be remixed with audio from police, firefighters, civilians at Ground Zero and Politicians commenting on the attacks.
He was asked to sing the song live at the benefit concert America: A Tribute to Heroes ten days after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Iglesias broadcast his performance from a warehouse in New York alongside Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Sheryl Crow, the location of the warehouse was kept secret in case of further attacks. It was Iglesias' first televised performance of the song. He had performed the song earlier at that year's Miss Venezuela but due to the terrorist attacks the show was not aired on television.
In June 2007, Iglesias performed the track during his set at London gay club G-A-Y. Traditionally, Iglesias serenades a member of the audience when he performs the song, and this show was no different. However, in this case, a gay male fan was plucked from the audience, illustrating how Iglesias fully embraces his gay fan base in a way unlike many mainstream male pop stars.
The song enjoyed much success worldwide hitting the top spot in over ten countries. It also officially became a worldwide number one when it held the top spot on the United World Chart for five weeks.
In February 2002 the song was released in the UK, where it went straight to number one for four weeks becoming one of the biggest hits of the year there. Up to this point Iglesias had already had two hits in the UK but was largely unknown. Hero was seen as a breakthrough for Iglesias in the UK and Escape became one of the best selling albums of that year. Six years later in 2008, "Hero" is consistently one of the top two most downloaded Latin songs on the UK's iTunes store (alongside Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" which often takes the number one spot).