The singer recalled meeting his fellow BSBers at an open call audition, including A.J. McLean, who joined Carter and his pro partner Sharna Burgess during the week as the pair rehearsed their jazz number to the boy band's hit ‘90s song, "Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)."
"When I heard Nick sing, it was undeniable," said fellow BSB member Howie Dorough of Carter. "He was our little Michael Jackson of the group."
"He was an extremely talented guy," McLean agreed, "but he had a pretty rough childhood."
Carter become overwhelmed with emotion as he talked about his upbringing in what he called a "dysfunctional family." "There was just a lot of fighting in our household and it broke my heart," he explained. "I could never fix my family."
"Most of his friends that he grew up with are either dead now or are in jail,” McLean said of his friend and fellow performer. "Nick used performing and arts and music to get him out of that."
"The boys saved me," Carter explained emotionally. "They loved and treated me like a true brother."
Burgess understood her partner’s desire to say "thank you and I love you" to his fellow BSBers and the bands’ legion of fans, setting up their routine as a concert performance and crowding the floor with hundreds of fans, which also included McLean and fellow boybanders in *NSync’s Joey Fatone, 98 Degrees’ Jeff Timmons and O-Town’s Jacob Underwood, Erik-Michael Estrada, and Trevor Penick.
The pair incorporated some of BSB's classic dance moves and were even mobbed by fans as they got off-stage, making the whole performance feel totally true to life for every nostalgic '90s boy band fan.
The judges loved their performance, awarding them triple 9s to tie for the second-highest score of the evening. Julianne Hough went full fangirl, making her own "I ❤ Nick" sign.
"I’ve learned so much right now and I’m just so grateful and so honored to be a part of the process," Carter said of his DWTS experience after his performance. "I think it’s helping me grow as a human being, really. Because it’s not just about the dance, it's about being strong in the moment and being able to overcome adversity."