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Gary Deputy Mayor Suzette Raggs says her daughter Talicia always has had an adventurous spirit.

Her latest adventure took Talicia and her younger brother, Tramel, on a worldwide quest as part of the CBS reality series "The Amazing Race."

Talicia, 29, and Tramel, 22, were chosen from among thousands of entries to take part in the third installment of the series, in which 12 two-member teams compete in a race around the world for a $1 million prize. Each team has a previous relationship, brother-sister, husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, etc.

The show premieres at 8 p.m. local time Oct. 2. The contestants start off in Miami, and over the course of 12 weeks will travel more than 40,000 miles across four continents. Each week, the teams compete in a series of challenges and must race to a final destination. The last team to arrive is eliminated.

Host Phil Keoghan, a travel expert from New Zealand, said it will be evident from the start why Tramel and Talicia were selected for the show.

"They are very dynamic," he said. "These two are like a walking sitcom. They're both very funny and very likable. There's a lot of squabbling, but underneath it all, there's this real love for each other."

The siblings were raised in Gary. Talicia, a graduate of the Emerson School of Performing Arts, moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and now works as an assistant to a sports agent. Tramel, a Wirt graduate, is a business student at Indiana University in Bloomington, but took a semester off for the race.

Raggs said the siblings have always been close despite the age difference.

"If you didn't know they were seven years apart, you would almost think they were twins," she said. "Like any brother and sister, they've had some serious arguments, but they always have a way of coming back together."

That bond was one of the things that appealed to the show's producers.

"You get a sense that they really love each other and that they'll watch out for each other," said Lynne Stillman, casting director for the show.

The field of contestants is picked from thousands of videos sent in from around the country. Potential candidates are interviewed by the show's producers.

"Their energy was incredible," Stillman said. "They didn't stop talking. They've got wonderful personalities. He is super smart and she's a real people person."

Picking the finalists is like a puzzle, she explained, because the producers want a good mix of teams representing different types of relationships. "The show is really about the relationship and how it's going to change," she said.

That's one of the things that makes "The Amazing Race" stand out among the reality shows, Keoghan said. "These are couples with a pre-existing relationship. Viewers get to see something that already exists and how it evolves, on other shows, you have to wait for those relationships to develop."

Tracee Raggs Parrish filmed the audition tape for her brother and sister. Parrish, 25, wasn't surprised that Talicia would want to go on a global adventure. "It's right up my sister's alley," she said laughing.

Parrish is looking forward to watching the show, although she regrets that she couldn't take part, too.

"I wish I could have had the experience," she said, "but I think the two of them made the best team. They're so much alike and they always have been. They have the same sense of humor and the same sense of adventure. They think along the same lines, enjoy the same music, like the same kind of clothes."

Her mom says Talicia always has enjoyed traveling. Last Sept. 11, she was supposed to be on American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the first tower of the World Trade Center. However, she left a day earlier because of a work emergency.

"I believe that God will take care of her and that she's ordained to do the things she's doing," Raggs said, adding that Talicia was traveling last September after participating in a bike-a-thon to raise funds for HIV research.

Talicia has had other close calls in California, including being caught in the middle of the Rodney King riots and narrowly missing a drive-by shooting outside a movie theater. "But she continues to be adventuresome, and it has not broken her spirit, " her mother said proudly.

Raggs said she and her husband, James, are proud of their children and the closeness they've maintained.

"They're very funny when they get together, all three of them. They break up the seriousness around us."

The bond was forged at an early age. "When they were young, they did everything together. They went to plays, swimming, everything," she said, adding that if one of them went to a birthday party, they always asked for extra cake to bring home to the other two.

The three also have become good at keeping secrets.

"They didn't even tell us they put in the application until they became finalists," Raggs said. "And when my son left Gary to get on the plane, I had no idea where they were going."

And she has no idea how her children fared in the race for $1 million. Although the competition is finished, teams are bound by contract not to reveal any results until the show is aired.

Participants from the first two installments of "The Amazing Race" have become pseudo-celebrities, but the show's executives said they try not to mimic the popularity of past contestants when picking the new teams.

"There are so many choices, we don't have to do that," Keoghan said. "And you'll see that nobody we've had on is like Tramel and Talicia and there never will be anyone like them."

The most important thing to succeeding in the race, Keoghan believes, is teamwork, then smarts, then luck. On the bottom of the list is physical ability.

"There isn't anything in the race that isn't totally accessible to the average person, but there are a lot of mental leaps in the race -- mental leaps of faith," he said.

Raggs said that should bold well for her children.

"They come from a praying family," she said, laughing. "But even if they don't come in first or second, the experience is just as valuable."


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Contestants weren't available for interviews before the series:

Tramel and Talicia have a close relationship, but like other siblings, they have disagreements. Originally from Gary, Talicia, 29, now resides in Los Angeles and works as an assistant to a sports agent. Tramel, 22, is a senior at Indiana University. Since they don't see each other every day, they are excited to be able to spend more time together and compete for $1 million.

This competitive brother -sister team describe themselves as "the male-female counterpart of the same person, we are so alike. We like the same things, eat the same food, share the same thoughts, and make the same mistakes." They believe that with Tramel's intuition and Talicia's street smarts they will be able to win.

Since they're seven years apart in age, they also have lived very different lives. Talicia has fought and struggled through everything, while Tramel has coasted through life on his wit and charm. He scored a 1300 on his SAT without any preparation, while she got 1100 and stayed up many long nights studying. Talicia feels that Tramel takes the easy way out of things and hopes that "The Amazing Race" will give her brother a taste of the real world.

Talicia's most valuable item in her backpack is her noise-reducing headsets, which "will drown out the nonsense of the world," while Tramel's is a picture of his family and, of course, his clothes.

Here are excerpts from a questionnaire the contestants filled out:

Tramel Raggs:

Q: How do you feel about your family? Are you close?

A: I love my family. I wouldn't say we're close and we're definitely not the Cleavers/Bradys/Cosbys family off of "Seventh Heaven," but we're there for each other.

Q: What is the biggest disappointment you have experienced from your teammate?

A: I was going to Mexico for spring break and she told me I didn't need a passport. She was wrong. I missed my flight and thought my trip was ruined.

Q: How did you resolve it?

A: She picked me up at the airport, we found out what I needed to get into Mexico, and she bought me a ticket to Mexico for the next morning.

Q: What is the most memorable time together with your teammate? Why?

A: Probably the most memorable time I had with Talicia was when I was 5 (she was 12) and I knocked her out. We were play-boxing and I accidentally put her down for real. Heh, heh.

Q: How are you and your teammate most alike?

A: Believe it or not, we're almost identical. We like and hate mostly all the same things and think pretty much alike. She's virtually the female version of me.

Q: What is your primary motivation for being on the show? What is your secondary motivation?

A: My primary motivation for being on the show is the fact that I know my team can win, plain and simple. The secondary motivation is that after we win, me and big sis are gonna split a million bucks.

Talicia Raggs:

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Running the L.A. marathon! I never imagined as an overweight kid, who couldn't run a lap around a track, that I'd ever be able to do it. But I set my mind to it, trained with a group of people and ran it -- twice!

Q: What is the most memorable time together with your teammate? Why?

A: Even though we do a lot of adventurous things, the most memorable time was with me, my sis and my bro playing Zelda (a Nintendo game). My brother would play and my sister and I would coach him. Every time we did it like that we would beat the game. When any of us would play by ourselves, we wouldn't pass the first level. Tramel was 7, my sister was 10, and I was 14.

Q: What is the biggest disappointment you have experienced with your teammate?

A: Oh God, there are so many! I think it comes from the fact that he is young and as a male, very immature. I told him how much his being on the sidelines during the marathon would mean to me. Well he stayed out drinking the night before and missed me because he had a hangover. When he was not there, I cried during the race.

Q: How are you and your teammate most alike?

A: We are really considered the male-female counterpart of the same person; we are so alike. We like the same things, eat the same food, share the same thoughts, make the same stupid mistakes.

Q: How are you and your teammate different.

A: I'm a girl, he's a boy. I'm 29, he's 22. He got almost 1300 on the SATs with no studying, I got a 1030 by staying up every night. He is brilliant in book sense. I am brilliant in common sense.

Q: What is your primary motivation for being on the show? What is your secondary motivation for being on the show.

A: 1) See the world -- without having to go to the Navy.

2) To work together with my brother -- to get some of that camaraderie back that we used to have as kids.

3) Win a million -- who doesn't want a million? Besides, all those hundred dollar bills will do a lot in patching up any wounds I have left over from Tramel.

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