Brian Banks use to be a high school football standout with explosive speed, college body size and dominating power as a linebacker. He made a verbal commitment to the University of Southern California where he was sure to showcase his All-American attributes, but his football dreams and his life in general took a damaging hit when one of his own classmates, Wanetta Gibson accused him of raping her. Banks was charged with rape and kidnapping and spent his next five years in jail, along with five years on probation.
It was not until May 12, 2012 when a California court cleared banks record due to Gibson recanting her statements of him raping her. “I can’t believe this is happening, it’s very surreal for me,” Banks said.
He also talked about how it’s nearly impossible to explain the feeling of having no freedom, of having his dignity and respect basically stripped from him at such a young age.
“To lose it all and watch the world pass you by as you sit inside a prison cell, knowing you shouldn’t be there, knowing you’re there because of another person’s lies, to lose it all and then get it all back, it’s a very humbling, spiritual feeling that you just don’t want to take anything for granted,” Banks said in a statement in a press conference.
Banks certainly thought that his time in prison and on probation would shatter his dreams of one day getting the chance to play football again and play at the highest level in the NFL, but one team knew how special Banks is and wanted to provide him the chance to live out his dream. The Atlanta Falcons have been scouting banks ever since he was cleared in May of 2012, they were keeping tabs on him and seeing his progression.
“He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity. We are very happy that Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL and we look forward to seeing him on the field,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said.
The Falcons head coach Mike Smith officially invited banks to the Falcons facility on April 3, 2013 where he offered Banks a contract to play for them.
“I had a really amazing one-on-one conversation with Mike Smith, he congratulated me and said he was happy for me to be here,” Banks said.
This is hopefully just the first step for Banks as he tries to finally live out his childhood dream of playing in the NFL, as the Falcons will begin off season workouts on April 22, Banks remains positive and hungry to try and make the team.
“All I can do is my best and however the turnout will be, I thank God for the opportunity,” Banks said.
It will be a real feel good story if Banks can not only make the roster, but have an impact on the team and be successful in the league. Besides football though, Banks is also a spokesman for the California Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused. There may even be a documentary in the works about Banks story and his journey to get where he is at today.
NFL Exonerated high school star Brian Banks signs with Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have signed exonerated former high school football star Brian Banks to a free-agent contract.
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Has Brian Banks’ dream of an NFL career been delayed or even destroyed by a false charge of rape and 5 years in prison?
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