In 2002, Todd Manning hired Ross Rayburn to help him kidnap his children, Starr and Jack, who were with their mother Blair Cramer in Hawaii. However, the plot went awry after Todd's ex-wife Téa Delgado tipped off Blair, who returned with her kids to Llanview and divorced Todd. Todd, Ross and Tea ended up shipwrecked on a deserted island. Ross and Todd both vied for Téa's affections. After Todd spied Téa kissing Ross, he decided to leave the island alone. When Téa told Todd she had always been in love with him, Todd admitted he wanted to be with her and the two made love for the first time. Afterwards, however, Téa realized Todd was still in love with Blair and gave her blessing for Todd to return to Blair. Todd got on a makeshift raft and rowed to safety, while Téa and Ross stayed behind. Once Todd returned to Llanview, a search party was sent out and rescued Ross and Téa.
In 2009, after Tea had returned to Llanview and renewed a relationship with Todd, a jealous Blair hired Rex Balsom to investigate what Téa had been up to in the years since she was rescued from the island. It turned out that both Téa and Ross had vanished after being rescued, although Rex discovered that Ross was living in Tahiti under an assumed name and had been living with an unknown woman until shortly before Téa resurfaced in Llanview. Téa, meanwhile, was shaken when Ross' attorney Elijah Clarke came to town and threatened to expose a secret that Téa had been hiding. Téa told Elijah that she refused to give into Ross' blackmail demands and give him what he thinks she took from him.
Blair flew to Tahiti and came face to face with Ross, who told Blair that he and Téa were married. When Téa called Ross, demanding a divorce so she could marry Todd, Blair told Ross to sign the divorce papers but to make sure they were never filed. Blair then talked Ross into coming back with her to Llanview, promising that she would drop the kidnapping charges against him once they exposed Téa's lie to Todd. Ross was attracted to Blair and kissed her, but Blair's only interest was in making sure Téa and Todd didn't marry. Blair stashed Ross in the cabana on Dorian's property. Dorian discovered Ross there and offered Ross a substantial payment to keep Blair from disrupting Todd and Téa's wedding, since Dorian wanted Blair to give up her obsession with Todd. Ross initially resisted the offer, but on the day of Todd and Téa's wedding, Ross managed to get Blair aboard a boat in Llantano Bay before she could interrupt the wedding. Ross called Blair out on being in love with Todd, and she admitted that she still had feelings for him. When Ross realized he had lost the check Dorian had given him, he went to Dorian to get another check and Blair overheard their conversation. She called them both out for lying to her and then told Todd that his newlywed bride was already married. When Blair later told Ross what she had done, Ross said Téa was hiding another secret and that he would tell Blair if she proved she was over Todd by kissing him. But Blair said she was tired of his games and threatened to have him arrested if he didn't leave -- adding that she had "forgotten" to drop the kidnapping charges.
In a moment of weakness, Téa revealed to Blair her other secret: that she was a mother. Téa said she discovered she was pregnant after leaving the island and had married Ross, although the marriage later fell apart. When Blair realized that the child was actually Todd's, she and Téa got into a struggle and Blair fell out of a second-story window, losing her memory about what Téa had told her. Ross, meanwhile, was desperate to find out where Téa was keeping the child, which Ross believed was his. He snuck into Todd's home and almost stole Téa's briefcase, which had details on the child's location, but was discovered and arrested. Ross called on Elijah to help him get out of jail, and it was revealed that he and Elijah were brothers.
After getting released from jail on bail, Ross pressed Elijah to find out the location of his child, a teen-age daughter named Danielle. Elijah hired a private investigator to go through Téa's phone records and tracked down Dani at a London boarding school. When Elijah told Ross that he couldn't leave the country to go after her, Ross punched out Elijah and booked a flight to London using Elijah's credit card. Ross snuck into the school but was discovered by the headmistress and forced to leave before he could find Dani. Back in Llanview, Ross pressed Blair for information on Téa's whereabouts and revealed to her that they had a child, not realizing that Blair already knew the child was really Todd's. After Ross threatened to tell Todd that Téa had a child, Blair told Ross that Téa was in Seattle. Ross broke into Téa's hotel room in Seattle and demanded to know where Dani was, forcing Téa to admit that he wasn't Dani's father. Ross refused to believe it, even discounting the paternity test Téa showed him, and he began trashing the room and strangling Téa before Todd interrupted. When Danielle showed up, she called the cops and Todd, Téa and Ross were all arrested. Ross managed to overtake a guard and stole his gun. He located Dani at the hospital and took her hostage at gunpoint. When he came across Blair in the parking garage, he forced Blair to go with them and headed toward the Canadian border. The situation came to an end when Ross tried to lure Dani to jump off a bridge with him and Todd shot Ross, who fell into the icy water to his presumed death.
A month later, Téa took Danielle back to their home in Tahiti so she could give Ross a proper goodbye and both were shocked when Ross turned up very much alive. After learning that Dani had nearly shot Todd on New Year's Eve, Ross told Dani the truth that Todd was her biological father. Ross urged Dani to return to Llanview to get to know Todd. To seal the deal, Téa said she would tell no one that Ross was alive and allow him to live in Tahiti if Danielle returned with her to Llanview. Ross and Dani shared a bittersweet goodbye, and Dani said she would come back to see him one day.
After Eli and Blair got engaged in July 2010, Téa revealed to them that Ross was alive and well and living in Tahiti. The day they were to be married in Llanview, Eli convinced Blair to fly off with him to Tahiti so they could be married with his brother Ross present. In Tahiti, Ross arrived just as Blair had decided to leave before getting married, but Ross talked Blair into staying for the ceremony. Ross was shocked to learn that Téa was dying of a brain tumor. He expressed concern for Dani's welfare, but Blair assured Ross that she was in good hands with Todd. Ross snapped a photo of the pair as they were announced man and wife. Ross gathered his belongings and left the cabana, telling them to enjoy it before their flight back to Llanview. Outside, Eli thanked Ross for his help convincing Blair to stay and get married, assuring Ross that Blair would not be stepping onto the plane back to Llanview. Ross realized he accidentally left his phone inside the cabana. When Eli went inside to retrieve it, the cops arrived with an arrest warrant for Eli. Ross declared he was Eli and the police hauled him off to the local jail. When John McBain arrived from Llanview, he told the authorities they had the wrong man and headed out to Ross' cabana. Ross arrived to find the cabana ablaze, and John told him his brother was dead. Ross was taken back to the police station, and John told the local police he wanted a full transcript of Ross' interrogation.
Ross was released from custody in Tahiti and returned to Llanview, where he sent a cryptic message to Danielle about coming for her before showing up at Todd's house. Ross claimed he had just learned about Téa's death after receiving in the mail a copy of her will, in which Ross was named as Danielle's legal guardian. Todd and Blair both insisted the will was a fake, but Ross assured Dani that her mother wanted Dani to live with him. A very-much alive but injured Eli called Ross to make sure everything was on track, and they recalled how they staged Eli's death and planted a look-alike body in the cabana to throw off the police. Ross questioned the timing of Téa's death, and Eli assured him that he only took advantage of Téa's illness and did not cause it.
In court, Ross presented a taped confrontation between himself and Todd in which Todd threatened to kill Ross and dispose of the body. That, coupled with Dr. Greg Evans' testimony that Téa told him she wanted Dani to live with Ross, swayed the judge to give Ross full custody of Danielle. Dani disappeared before Ross could take her back to Tahiti, however. The next day, Ross was shocked when Eli showed up in Llanview at the docks and demanded that they find Dani so he could extract money from Todd in exchange for her. When Ross protested, Eli revealed to Ross the lengths at which he went to help Ross secure Dani -- going so far as to have Greg poison Téa so she would die. When Ross went to call the cops to see if there was any news about Dani, Eli pulled out a gun and shot Ross. Eli pushed Ross into the water and was shot himself during a standoff with Todd. After Eli fled, Ross pulled himself out of the water and Todd pulled him onto the docks. Ross told Todd that Eli was after Dani, then he died.