What Did Matt James Do Before Becoming The Bachelor?

Matt James made history as the first Black man to lead a season of ABC's "The Bachelor" earlier this year. He ended his run on the show by finding love with contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. However, their relationship hit a hurdle after evidence of some past racially insensitive behaviors surfaced online. They've recently reconciled and confirmed they are back together (via Vulture). The happy couple appears to be going strong as 2021 comes to a close. For evidence, they went viral earlier this week after James apologized for watching the show "Mare of Easttown" without Kirkconnell (via People).

Clearly James, who was originally set to compete in a season of "The Bachelorette," according to Marie Claire, has given love a shot after his tenure on the show. He's also keeping busy with a loaded work schedule. Following in the footsteps of several former competitors and stars of "The Bachelor" franchise, James will compete on the upcoming season of "Dancing With The Stars" (via Gold Derby). He faces stiff competition from the likes of "Dance Moms" alum and superstar JoJo Siwa and Peloton's Cody Rigsby, but is sure to get some love from franchise fans.

We know what he's been up to in the months since he stole hearts across the nation on "The Bachelor," but what did James do before he starred on the show?

Matt James pursued a career in the NFL and co-founded a nonprofit

Matt James won over fans on "The Bachelor." However, he almost became a star in a different arena. After studying economics at Wake Forest University, he graduated in 2015 and pursued a career in the National Football League (via Us Weekly). Marie Claire noted that he was in the running for a spot on two different teams — the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints. However, neither worked out. "I didn't think I was going to make a career out of football, but I thought my stint in the NFL would be longer than a few months," he admitted in an interview with DeacLink.

James is currently training for the NYC Marathon, according to his Instagram, and remains athletic, but moved in a different direction after trying out for the NFL. He worked with PNC Bank in Pittsburgh for a while and then moved to New York City. There he founded a nonprofit group called ABC Food Tours with his good friend and fellow "Bachelor" alumni Tyler Cameron. According to the group's website, they work with students in New York City by "providing experiences across diverse cultures and career opportunities through food/fitness, education, and skills-based training."

"My favorite part of running ABC is working with kids," James told DeacLink. "If you can positively influence these students at this age, you can potentially change the course of their lives. Also, I love seeing our students try new foods!"