The military veteran has captured fans' hearts this season

By Jodi Guglielmi
Updated December 09, 2020 04:10 PM
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There's more to Bachelorette contestant Ben Smith than meets the eye.

On last week's episode of the ABC reality show, Ben, 30, opened up about his years-long battle with an eating disorder, deepening his connection with lead Tayshia Adams and earning himself the group date rose. He got vulnerable once again this week, opening up during the dinner portion of his one-on-one date with Tayshia about two failed suicide attempts in recent years.

After the episode aired, he posted a goofy selfie with an inspiring and important message to his followers.

"The world is better with you in it 💜 keep going bb," he wrote.

During the emotional on-camera conversation, he admitted he was worried about possibly taking Tayshia home to meet his family because he still hadn't confided in his sister about those dark times.

"I didn't want to be here anymore, and for the same reason that I don't like to share, because I didn't want to burden anybody with my problems," he said. "And I thought that the easiest way was to just not be around. Luckily, it didn't work and the only thing that got me through that was her and she has no idea. She saved my life. I owe her everything."

Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

He's clearly close with his sister, and previously revealed that she was the one who intervened and got him help during his battle with bulimia.

"I found out what girls were when I was 15," he said on the Dec. 1 episode. "I realized they don't like the fat kid. And so I stopped eating, started working out all the time. Lost like, 70 lbs. Had bulimia for like, 10 years and I was in my 20s. It's hard to hide something for so long."

Ben, who now works in the health and fitness space, credited his sister with helping him recover.

So who is Ben? Here's everything to know about the reality star, from his background in the military to his love for dogs.

Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

He's a military veteran.

After graduating from West Point and the United States Army Ranger School, Ben served in the Army and became a Ranger.

"I got recruited to play golf at West Point, so I had no idea what it was or what it was about," he said in a YouTube video. "My intention was to go do special forces."

According to his ABC bio, Ben left active duty after suffering a life-changing back injury.

"I had this epiphany and I was like, 'You know what? I don't need to do this anymore,'" he said. "It was a very weird thing for me because I had based my life on achieving these goals."

Ben regularly shares photos from his time in the military on his Instagram, reflecting on what the experience taught him.

"In a former life, living and working in austere, less than favorable conditions, for unknown and often extended periods of time was the norm," he wrote in April. "I am lucky to have had those experiences and I am proud of how it has shaped my response to other times of hardship — mental, emotional, and even physical."

He's a personal trainer. 

After leaving the military and moving to California, Ben shifted his focus to health and fitness. He's currently a trainer at Bodybuilding Club in Venice, where he instructs on both fitness and nutrition. He also works at DEUCE Gym.

"Showing up as I am is enough," he said of the comfort he has found in the fitness community. "I got that feeling on day one."

And of course,he shows off his workouts — and impressive results — all over his social media.

Chris Harrison is a big fan. 

When longtime franchise host Chris Harrison first introduced the cast of the current season of The Bachelorette, he couldn't help but give a special shout-out to Ben.

"Wonderful guy," he said. "This guy is the gentle-giant of the season — incredibly nice, big talker and long talker. When you get Ben going, it's hard to get him to stop."

"But he has an incredible story and has [given] unbelievable service to our country. Thank you, Ben. It was really a pleasure and an honor to get to know this gentleman," he continued. "[He's] well-liked and kind of a natural leader in the house. Guys really look up to him."

He loves dogs. 

When he's not busy working out, Ben is probably cuddled up to a puppy dog. His Instagram is full of photos of himself showing his friend's dogs — really, any dogs — some love.

"Ben what do you do all day?" he captioned one photo of himself getting a kiss from a dog.

The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.