Nick Yarris is a author and public speaker, known for his positive outlook on life even after being wrongly convicted of murder and spending 22 years of his life on death row before he was finally proven innocent.
By all accounts Yarris came from a hard past, and a bad case of “wrong place wrong time”. After being arrested for stealing cars, Yarris thought he would be able to skip doing any jail time if he were able to provide information about a recent murder. His plan was to simply blame it on a drug addict he knew who he believed had died of a drug overdose, Yarris was wrong however, the man was still alive, and when the detectives figured out he had lied, he became their new suspect. Charges were soon filed on him, and in 1982 at the young age of 21, Yarris was convicted of murder, sentenced to death, and sent to death row.
His time spent on death row can only be described as hell. Yarris spent the majority of his time in solitary confinement, suffered abuse at the hands of the prison guards as well as the inmates, living with murderers, serial killers and cannibals all around him, he even had notorious serial killer Gary Heidnik as a neighbor. All of this forced Yarris to be tougher than ever, but even more important than physical toughness was his mental toughness. To strengthen this, Yarris turned to reading, and by the time he left prison, he had read over 9,000 books. His dream was that by reading and educating himself, he would at least be able to give a eloquent statement at his execution.
Fortunately, he would never need to
Yarris had been waiting years for technology to catch up and prove his innocence from some DNA left on a piece of evidence. Finally in 2003 he was proven innocent, but 22 years on death row is hard for anyone, and the prison officials were afraid to release him back into the public, moving him around to different facilities instead, until he was eventually let out in 2004.
Upon being released, Yarris made a deal with his mother that he would use his experience for good, be positive, and share hope. He became a gifted public speaker, often times speaking to high school students. He also became an author, writing 7 Days to Live: This is my story, My Journey Through Her Eyes, Seven Days to Love, The Kindness Approach, The Fear of 13: Countdown to Execution, and Monsters & Madmen: A Death Row Experiment. Yarris has been the subject of many news reports, as well as his own documentary The Fear of 13, as well as a recent guest on the very popular podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience.
If you would like to know more about Yarris, or possibly book him as a guest speaker, you can visit his website nickyarris.org. To stay up to date on the amazing things he is doing, you can follow him on his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as his new podcast GoodIsGoingToWin and Patreon.
We asked Yarris what five books he recommends, his choices are below: