December 14, 2011 12:00 PM

Best known as the “400-lb. break-dancer” in Trailer Choir, Vinny Hickerson, a.k.a. Big Vinny, got a serious wake-up call in February when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “It was the hardest thing for me to deal with,” says Hickerson. “I’d given myself a disease because of overeating and not really caring.”

Hickerson, 28, decided to do something about it. He joined the reality TV weight-loss competition The Biggest Loser and, as of the Nov. 8 episode, has lost 81 lbs. “It’s just the beginning for me,” says Hickerson, who weighs 345 lbs. now and hopes to be 225 lbs. “of solid muscle.”

There is one goal he has already reached: He no longer takes medication to manage his diabetes. “Eight weeks of eating right and working out, and I beat a disease I brought on myself,” he says. But he still has one wrong he’s eager to right. “Before the show I took my girlfriend and her son Brennon to Universal Studios to ride Harry Potter,” he says. “I stood in line for an hour, and then they told me I was too big to ride. Brennon, he’s 9, he didn’t understand,” says Hickerson, who waited while his girlfriend and her son rode without him. “I sat there with my head down and I started to cry,” he says. “It ripped my heart out.” So his postshow plans should come as no surprise. Says Hickerson: “First thing is we’re getting on that Harry Potter ride!”

As for the nickname, it’s staying. “To me ‘Big Vinny’ has never been about my weight,” he says. “It’s about my personality, my heart, my smile-everything I do, I do it big.”

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