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After 27 Years In Prison, Valentino Dixon Uses An iPhone02:50
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Valentino Dixon outside court in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept.2018, following his exoneration of a murder charge that kept him in prison for 27 years. (Carolyn Thompson/AP)
Valentino Dixon outside court in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept.2018, following his exoneration of a murder charge that kept him in prison for 27 years. (Carolyn Thompson/AP)

This story is part of Only A Game's 2019 Thanksgiving Leftovers Show. Find the full episode here.


Valentino Dixon spent 27 years of his life in maximum security facilities for a murder he did not commit. He was released from prison in Sept. 2018, thanks in part to his illustrations of golf courses. It’s a crazy story. You should listen to the original.

I caught up with Valentino Dixon about a month after his release. He was a happy man. Ecstatic, even. 

"[The] only issue I have is this iPhone that my daughter bought me, and I wanna take this thing and smash it up against the wall some days," Dixon says. "Because it’s so difficult, and it’s giving me a hard time. You know? It’s really driving me nuts.    

"Let me tell you something that’s so crazy. I was in New York City, right? I was in the hotel. I needed to get an Uber. So I didn’t know how to download no Uber app on my phone.

"I stopped this guy in the hotel. Seemed like a decent guy to stop. I say, 'Hey, guy, could you do me a favor?' Hey says, 'What?' I say, 'I need you to download this Uber app on my phone so I can get an Uber ride from the hotel.' Excuse my language. He says, 'Are you f-----g kidding me?' I say, 'Yeah, I’m serious!'

"I said 'Listen, man. I just got outta jail for 27 years for something I didn’t do, and I don’t know how to download the app on my phone. Or to get the Uber, how to use an Uber,' " Dixon says. "So he says, 'Guy, what are you talking about, 27 years? You don’t even look like 27.' You know, they always tell me I look young. So I said, 'Google "Valentino Dixon." ' "

So Valentino hadn’t mastered the iPhone. But he knew about Google.

"So he Googles my name and he says 'Oh, my f-----g god! You f-----g did time in jail! You serious?' He says, 'This is you, isn’t it?' And I said, 'Yeah, I told you!'

"He says, 'You got a smile on your face!' He said, 'How is that even possible?' He said, 'I’d never smile for the rest of my life if I did 27 years in jail for something I didn’t do.' I says, 'Man, I’m not even mad. That’s not who I am.' He says, 'Guy. Listen, man. You got me shaking right now.' He says, 'I’ll do anything you want me to do! Come on. Let’s do it!'

"And he hooked it up for me. And he says, 'Dude, you changed my life, man. You made me think about things a whole … totally different.' "

Valentino Dixon got his Uber ride. He got to where he was meant to be. He’s been helping people think differently about things ever since.

Valentino Dixon holds one of the golf drawings he created in prison. (David Duprey/AP)
Valentino Dixon holds one of the golf drawings he created in prison. (David Duprey/AP)

Since his release, Valentino Dixon played golf for the first time. In April, he attended The Masters, where he met Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Dixon’s art is exhibiting around the country. And he started his own foundation for prison and sentencing reform.

Our original story on Valentino Dixon aired on Nov. 10, 2019.

This segment aired on November 30, 2019.

Gary Waleik Producer, Only A Game
Gary Waleik is a producer for Only A Game.

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