The Transformation Of Ben Higgins From 1 To 32 Years Old

Ben Higgins grew up as an only child in Warsaw, Indiana. He's always been close to his parents, once telling ABC News that they're "really good friends." He leaned on his parents for support throughout his childhood, and that continued later during his journey as the Bachelor as well.

"My mom, and I know this for a fact, has prayed for my wife every day since the day I was born," he said, per 6ABC.

As viewers eventually got to see on "The Bachelor," Ben seemed to live a fairly typical childhood in Indiana. WMAR noted that he gave a tour during filming of his season where he pointed out his church and elementary school, and he even revealed where he'd experienced his first kiss. Viewers also got a taste of the Baker Youth Club where Ben once worked. His early years living an All-American life laid the foundation for Ben to become one of the most popular leads that "The Bachelor" ever had.

Ahead, relive Ben's life in pictures.

Sports injuries turned Ben Higgins' life upside down

During high school, Ben Higgins played basketball and football (per Indy Star). Unfortunately, significant injuries required two knee surgeries and he was unable to continue with basketball. Ben kept playing football, but he also developed an addiction to painkillers. He shared during a Facebook Live for American Addiction Centers that his junior year knee injury sparked this addiction.

"For me, that was a turning moment where I realized my identity, the thing that I had always counted on was going to be taken away," Ben explained. He turned to the painkillers "to just rid myself of the pain emotionally that was inside of me."

Unfortunately, Ben's prior injuries kept him out of college football and his painkiller addiction continued. He attended Indiana University alongside good friend Kory Barnett, who went on to coach college basketball. Barnett called Ben "the nicest, most genuine person that you will ever meet," per Indy Star. He added that Ben "has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met."

Ben eventually realized his addiction was holding him back and he got help. He credited his faith for pulling him through it, explaining "it was one of the moments that God has interacted in my life in the most loving of ways." Ben also threw himself into missionary work during those years, spending time in Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, and Machu Picchu.

Ben Higgins looked for love on reality television

As Ben Higgins' LinkedIn page detailed, he graduated college in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in business management and administration. About a year later, he settled down in Denver, Colorado, and started working with Talisys. In 2015, Ben turned his life upside down by joining the cast of Season 11 of "The Bachelorette" (per Us Weekly). Ben explained in his book "Alone in Plain Sight" that he initially tried to fly under the radar when it came to the cameras (via Life & Style).

"I took a lot of naps and hung back as much as I could. I tried to laugh at the right jokes told by the right people, and when I had one-on-one time, I tried to make a good enough impression not to stand out as a bad dude," Ben admitted.

Eventually, a producer for "The Bachelor" urged Ben to open up and let people get to know him. Ben admitted that it was tough to do that, as he "didn't feel worthy of being loved" and "didn't think anyone would really like me if they got to know the real me." Despite those hesitations, Ben and Kaitlyn hit it off well enough for him to earn plenty of roses. They shared an overnight fantasy suite date together, but Ben was eliminated at the next rose ceremony. Almost immediately, Ben was considered by viewers to be a top contender to be the next "Bachelor" lead.

Ben Higgins' engagement and heartbreaking split

Sure enough, as Today detailed, Ben Higgins became "The Bachelor" for Season 20. Quite quickly, JoJo Fletcher and Lauren Bushnell became front-runners. Toward the end of filming, he told both of them he loved them. He ultimately proposed to Lauren, and they shared their post-"Bachelor" lives via a spinoff show.

What Ben told JoJo, however, caused issues with Lauren. At the time, sharing his feelings with JoJo "was validating" and seemed "like the right thing to do," he said. In retrospect, he admitted, "it feels like it was manipulating as well, because it just made me feel a little bit better about making sure they both knew where I was at. So, I probably could have been wiser not saying it," he told Us Weekly.

Ben wrote in his book (via Life & Style) there was "mistrust" in his relationship with Lauren, and that provided the "first crack" in their romance. The mistrust had "a lot to do with what happened on the show," seemingly referencing JoJo. Ben and Lauren never watched "The Bachelor" together, but it haunted them anyway.

"Everywhere we went people asked about what they'd watched on that week's episode. The questions were not healthy for us. Even without the questions, we wouldn't have made it," Ben wrote.

Lauren moved to Denver and they talked about wedding dates. Ultimately, however, they couldn't overcome their issues. Ben and Lauren announced their split in May 2017 with a statement to People (via Entertainment Weekly).

Ben Higgins finds love again

Eventually, Ben Higgins did find love again, and it happened by sliding into someone's Instagram direct messages (per Sadie Robertson's Live Original). The "Bachelor" star wasn't quite that bold immediately, but one simple Instagram post by Jessica Clarke led to a beautiful love story. While Ben was in Nashville, where she lived, he saw a post she made and was immediately smitten.

Ben didn't send her a message right away, waiting a few months instead. She was curious enough about why he messaged her to respond, and the two immediately clicked. They dove into a long-term romance, and things grew from there.

"From our first visit, we made a promise not to be sad to leave each other but instead leave looking forward to the next time we'll see each other," Ben explained. They tried to see one another every couple of weeks, and they went "Instagram official" in February 2019.

"I took a risk and I am glad I did. She is someone special, and I look forward to where life is going to take us," Ben wrote while introducing the world to Clarke.

As Entertainment Tonight detailed, Ben proposed to Clarke in March 2020. They had quarantined together in Indiana with his parents throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but they drove to her parents' place in Tennessee for what he said was simply a visit. He surprised her with a proposal, and he admitted he was nervous as she's "my best friend, my partner and I love her."

Planning for forever together

Ben Higgins and Jessica Clarke originally planned to marry in 2020. As they told People, they postponed it due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite ongoing uncertainties, they decided to tie the knot in November, one way or another. The pair committed to not have sex until their wedding night, a commitment that became more challenging with the wedding postponement.

"It hasn't been ideal for us over the last year, because obviously, like I said, plans have changed pretty drastically over the last year. This wasn't a part of our plan, to wait for a year and a half," Ben told People.

In December 2020, Clarke officially moved to Denver (per Instagram). They bought a house together, but Ben explained "this will be Jess private VIP party pad until the wedding, then I move in to crash the place!" Clarke excitedly shared the news via her Instagram page too.

"Last week I started the moving process to Colorado and Into our FIRST HOME! The house is empty, but it's ours! I'll be living in it and making it into our little home until Ben joins me after the wedding. I can't wait to share all of the little projects," she wrote.

Ben's come a long way since his days playing ball and battling a painkiller addiction in Indiana. He walked away from corporate life and co-founded Generous International LLC. (per LinkedIn). He's also got the "Almost Famous" podcast with fellow "The Bachelor" veteran Ashley Iaconetti, and everybody's anxious to see what's next.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).