If you have never met Ryan Ferguson, his Instagram bio says it all: “Lost 10 years of life to a wrongful conviction, making up for it every day.”
Ferguson, who wasof murder and freed in 2013, has made sure to live every day to the fullest.
“I … know, almost certainly, that if you had not covered the trial, a lot of the facts would still remain probably hidden,” he told “48 Hours'” Erin Moriarty in a 2013 interview.
Moriarty, who has covered his story from the beginning, chatted with Ferguson to discuss his latest adventure: competing in “The Amazing Race.”
Ferguson recalls when he was contacted by a casting director on Instagram.
“I thought it was a joke. I was like, ‘I’m not really going to be able to get on this race, right,” he told Moriarty on a Zoom call. “I Googled him, and he was actually real, and I was like, ‘OK, yeah, I’ll check it out and talk to him.'”
The show’s 33rd season, now back after a lengthy hiatus, first started filming in 2020 but then the coronavirus pandemic shut down production.
“I thought, ‘OK, this will be over in a month.’ Little did we know that a month later, two months later, the whole world would be shut down,” he said. “We were surprised that it stopped for 19 months.”
When they returned to film, he told host and producer Phil Keoghan, “I’m used to being locked down. I just transitioned straight back into the prison life.”
Besides working out a lot, he studied and got his pilot license. Ferguson told Moriarty he could not just be upset with being locked in — especially as the rest of the world was shut down, too.
“I just had to take advantage of the opportunity to do something positive for my life,” he said. “That helped when I came back on the Race.”
Ferguson says racing with his father would have “been the coolest thing ever.”
“I thought it would be with my father and we have made many of those trips together,” he said. “You know, he’s a little bit older and can’t run as well.”
On the show, Ferguson is joined by his best friend, Dusty Harris, and says it was great racing around the world with Harris. It is, of course, a competition, which he admits can be far from ideal.
“I’m just like, ‘OK, I’ve been through a lot of these stressful environments before, and I know how to support my teammate,'” he told Moriarty. “And so, all these things just kind of came naturally to me.”
The biggest takeaway from doing “The Amazing Race,” he says, is to keep going — and growing.
“Dusty and I, we went through some hard times,” he said. “We messed up a lot … but the thing is we never got upset with one another.”
“It relates to life, and you’ve got to keep going — no matter what the challenges.”
Not one to forget his own experience in the criminal justice system, Ferguson has remained active in the discussion — highlighting other possible wrongful convictions in MTV’s 2016 docuseries “Unlocking The Truth.”
He also recently started a new podcast called “Prison Counts,” aimed at giving a behind-the-scenes look at America’s justice system, including interviews with former prisoners.
“I wanted to create that opportunity for them — a forum where they could speak, talk about their realities and humanize them. Because people need to see that there’s a lot of these individuals coming back into the real world, and they need our support.”