Though much of the drama from last night's Bachelorette finale circled around Peter and Bryan, it was Eric Bigger who captured the heart of local fans. Two weeks ago, there were some familiar sights on ABC reality show when Bigger brought the show’s star Rachel Lindsay to his hometown of Baltimore.
Bigger grew up in the Whitelock neighborhood and took Lindsay to the top of Federal Hill and shot hoops in the basketball courts at John Eager Howard Rec Center in Reservoir Hill. The real treat was meeting his family—especially his Aunt Verna—who all had sweet dance moves and a warm, welcoming vibe.
Watching Bigger’s “journey,” which is the only way the show refers to itself, was actually pretty inspirational even for skeptics. Recently, we got the chance to talk to Bigger about growing up playing basketball and riding dirt bikes in Baltimore, his favorite country of The Bachelorette experience, and how is life has changed since being on the show.
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Did you watch the hometowns episode in Baltimore?
I did! I went to the Sagamore Pendry Hotel, so fancy and beautiful everywhere you turn. Watching the episode was more emotional for me. I forgot about some of the stuff I talked about with my family. But I watched it with them and it was so great having everyone in one place. I loved getting the chance to have those talks with my mom and dad. Those are my people.
Your mom and dad were great, but I think everyone fell in love with your Aunt Verna.
She’s the best. Columbia University grad, very intelligent, three books, has a Ted Talk online.
She got straight to the point with Rachel and asked if she felt pressure being the first black Bachelorette. Did you feel similar pressure being the only black guy left?
I don’t really have any pressure. From a human being perspective, I really try not to think about things in those terms. I’m in this for love and let it be that. It’s crossed my mind, of course, but love is blind and doesn’t have a color. There’s only pressure on yourself if you make it that way.
What would be your ideal second date in Baltimore?
I probably would have taken to the Under Armour facilities and trained over there and then had some crabs and seafood on the water. I wish the Ravens were playing because we would have gone to a game. And then maybe end up somewhere in Fells Point or Canton and had a good time on the water. Rachel is really dynamic—loves to go out, work out, great personality. We would have had fun doing it all.
Where did you grow up in Baltimore?
Whitelock, near the Reservoir Hill community. I wanted to go to Dunbar to play basketball, but my mom wanted me to go to City College. My mom is a smart woman, very in touch with herself and what’s important for her family.
What are some of your specific memories of growing up here?
The main thing for me was basketball—it gave me life and saved my life. It was my first love. I also remember riding dirt bikes, the cookouts, Artscape, AFRAM, those are highlights from the city that I remember and miss.
But there were bad parts, too, of course: the killings, incarcerations, unhealthy lifestyle, and limited perspectives. People in my neighborhood only know what they know based on the exposure they get. Unless you travel outside of that, you won’t see beyond the killings.
Were you worried about representing Baltimore in a certain kind of way?
I wasn’t too worried about being negative because the truth is the truth. What I was worried about is that Rachel wouldn’t accept me because my upbringing is so different from hers. But she embraced it and accepted it. That gave me ease and peace.
You live in LA now. But how have you seen Baltimore change?
Yeah I come back a couple times a year. This year it’s been a lot because of filming hometowns in April. I see all the new development in the downtown areas with Sagamore and the Four Seasons. All those new spots are nice.
What made you originally audition for the show?
I had a friend who is in a TV Show, Aisha Cole, she’s the one who really got me started in it. She had a friend casting for the show and let me know about it. I was curious to explore why this opportunity was on my radar—to see what is supposed to happen. What happened was I fell in love with Rachel and told my story. And it gave me an opportunity to travel the world.
I think I have an idea, but what was your favorite date?
Oh, girl, you already know. Copenhagen, Denmark—hot tub, champagne, beautiful country, beautiful woman. So much fun!
How authentic were the conflicts you had with guys like Lee?
That was tough because that was the first time someone had my name in their mouth. It more so disappointed me. When I got to the bottom of it, I just had to stand up for myself. That whole week was so tough because I had three more arguments that week and I kind of said enough is enough. That’s why that anger came out. But after that, nothing bad happened. Then I started to focus on myself.
Who do you still keep in touch with from the show?
I talk to a lot of the guys, we got out and have a few drinks, you know. We do a lot of group texts. I talk to Matt probably every day. He was the one who helped me the most—he talked to me into a positive state of mind.
How has your life changed since going on The Bachelorette?
I’m definitely seeing a lot more interest in my personal training business, but I don’t want to train just any and every body. I really want to train people that are really invested in getting results. But it’s been steady and moving. It’s crazy getting recognized on the street whether it’s New York City or Baltimore or LA. I’m getting used to it and understanding it. But I love people so it’s easy for me to embrace the love and support.
Would you do another show like this in the future?
I’m pretty open, but who knows what’s next right now. I never thought I’d make it as far as I did. I’m a go-getter, I was trying to make it be instead of letting it come to me—that’s when things changed. What I learned the most is to let the universe bring you the moment. It could be training, could be TV. We shall see. I want to try all these things and see what sticks.