'My Giant Life' newlyweds take big step with move from California to Cleveland, Tenn.

Haleigh Hampton and Bryan Carvalho were married in the first season of "My Giant Life." The new season follows their career move from Huntington Beach, Calif., to Cleveland, Tenn., where they coach college volleyball together.

Tune In

Season 2 of “My Giant Life” premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on TLC. Check local listings for channels.

Imagine driving cross-country from California to Tennessee in a two-door Civic with no air conditioning. Just one couple and all the worldly goods they can pack into their Honda. Then, 100 miles short of their destination, the car breaks down in Alabama and must be towed the rest of the way to Cleveland, Tenn.

Sounds like a nightmare road trip - but great reality TV.

That's the start of newlyweds Haleigh Hampton and Bryan Carvalho's lives this season on "My Giant Life," TLC's reality show that follows the stories of women who stand 6 feet 6 inches or taller. Hampton stands 6 foot 7 inches.

The second season of "My Giant Life" debuts tonight at 10 p.m.

The four women of the original cast - Hampton, 6-foot 6-inch Colleen, 6-foot-9-inch Lindsay and 6-foot-9-inch Nancy - are back, along with two new additions, 6-foot-8-inch Katja and 6-foot-6-inch Lexie. Episodes reveal the challenges these women face living life a foot taller than the average female.

During Season 1, Hampton, a professional volleyball player, became engaged to a man who is 5 feet 8 inches and eight years older than she. Her father was quite vocal about his misgivings. Hampton tried to bring Dad around rather than be forced to choose between him or her fiancé. As the season ended, the couple married, her husband lost his job and she was trying to land a position on a professional volleyball team.

"It's been a crazy whirlwind," Hampton says of marrying, looking for a job then moving cross-country.

"Since Christmas my husband had been looking for another job," she says. "We explored the idea of moving out of state, but I was still trying to play professional volleyball. Then a mutual friend in California told me about a program in Tennessee that needed a coach. Bryan contacted the university and they ended up hiring us both.

"This season, you see Bryan and I navigating our new job out of state. It's fun. We share a tiny little office and, if we lean back in our chairs, we rub against each other," she laughs.

Hampton says her height made her very self-conscious growing up. She describes feeling "like the weird, tall girl in the back who could never contribute anything."

"My identity was my height. When you are growing up, teens are just mean anyway and, if there is any opportunity for them to feel better than you, they use it."

Her growth spurt started in eighth grade when she shot up from 5 feet 2 inches, to 5 feet 11 inches.

"Every year after eighth grade, I grew an inch or two until sophomore year of college," Hampton says.

She landed a spot on the first season of "My Giant Life" while a student athlete at Clemson University. The show's production agency contacted her volleyball coach by email about Hampton.

"We thought it was a joke," recalls Hampton. "We had a really good laugh about it. Coach emailed back, 'Haleigh is onboard.' "

But they realized it was serious when a casting agency interviewed Hampton via Skype. And when she told them she dated a guy 5 feet 8 inches, they interviewed him, too.

She now jokes that having a camera following them around isn't any stranger than a regular day in their lives.

"At first, it's kind of weird. But when you're my height, everything is kind of weird because people stare and gawk anyway."

Her biggest hope is that this show makes people more aware of how remarks can hurt.

"I just don't think people now have a filter. On a weekly basis, people ask 'How tall are you?' or 'Why would you marry a shorter guy?'

"I have somebody in my life who pushes me to be better every day and encourages me. It makes life so much sweeter and full of laughter. It doesn't matter about his height."

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.