Another shot at love. Two years after losing his wife, Michael Allio competed for Katie Thurston’s heart on season 17 of The Bachelorette — but after eliminating himself from the show ahead of the hometown dates, he is still looking for his person on Bachelor in Paradise.
The 38-year-old Ohio native revealed to Katie — and Bachelor Nation — that he has a son during the June 2021 premiere of the ABC series. He added that he was allowed to FaceTime James daily while living at the New Mexico resort for the show.
Michael welcomed James with wife Laura Ritter-Allio in September 2016, four years after the twosome walked down the aisle. The couple met while attending Loyola University in Chicago. Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and died two years later. He referred to his late spouse as his and James’ “magnificent angel” in a tribute on their son’s 4th birthday in 2020.
“And trust me when I say this … your beautiful mother … is so incredibly proud of you. She tells me this all the time Watching you grow and being by your side through this crazy journey has been nothing short of perfect,” Michael wrote via Instagram in September 2020. “Your smile lifts me when I’m weak and your eyes give me the unique gift of being able to see this world for the first time. There is NOTHING in this life more important than YOU and I’ll dedicate my life to ensuring that you hear and feel that as much as humanly possible. And while I feel your hand slowly growing inside mine, please know, that you’ll always be my baby. Forever. 💛💛💛”
While Michael and Katie formed a strong connection, he ended up quitting the show after James called and asked his dad: “Why don’t you want to see me anymore?”
“I always go back to that day when I had to say bye to Katie. It’s not something I wanted to do but as a parent, [it was an] easy decision. I would do it a million times again, just like I did there without thinking twice,” he exclusively told Us Weekly at the Men Tell All taping in July 2021. “I knew when I had to make that decision, that I was leaving an opportunity to pursue an amazing life with someone that I care about and finding that person is really difficult. And I think that’s kind of the conundrum parents and single parents always have [is] to balance time with someone that you love, like, your child and then you as an individual. And how do I pursue that happiness? And a lot of times — and I’ve spoken with a lot of widowers and single parents — they’re scared to do that. I understand it, like, a million times over because I still feel it. You give a little bit of time, it takes from something else.”
Michael added that “kids are crazy resilient,” but he was “very much” affected by Katie revealing he had a shot of making it to the finale.
“I would’ve left the show way earlier had I not believed that. And there wasn’t a moment during the entire time where I didn’t think we had an insanely strong connection,” he told Us. “You can tell typically when you don’t even have to say anything, right? You speak with your eyes, or you do something when you walk into a room, you can feel it. I knew that all of that was real. Hearing her say that again was just kind of a reminder of some of the pain I caused her by leaving and also the pain I continue to feel by leaving.”
When it came time to film BiP in summer 2022, Michael told Entertainment Tonight that James was “in a good place” and “in good hands” with his grandparents.
“He’s with my parents and my in-laws, and they came to him with this vacation package while I was gone,” he explained. “When I told him I was going away, he was like, ‘I’m going to have so much more fun than you.’ And I’m like, ‘Little do you know.'”