Vindication Complete: Brian Banks, Linebacker Exonerated in Rape Case, Signs with Atlanta Falcons
Brian Banks was a rising football star when a wrongful kidnap-rape conviction in 2002 ensured that he would never reach his potential on a football field.
He would spend five years in prison and another five years on probation by the time he was exonerated in 2012.
“I felt at the time in order for me to exit prison with a sane mind and be able to just function as a person I had to let go of certain dreams and goals I once held in life, football being one of them,” Banks said Wednesday in a teleconference.
“Football being one of them. … For me, I had to let that go. I had to let those dreams go in order for me to just focus on what was in front of me — and that was five years in prison that was a completely different life of violence and just being away from your family and all the different elements that go with prison.”
Since then, we’ve waited patiently to hear that the former USC recruit would some day be given the opportunity he’d lost — the chance to pursue his dream. On Wednesday, that day came.
The 26-year-old has signed with the Atlanta Falcons, which he calls his second-biggest accomplishment. Though excited, what he’s endured sticks with him:
“It’s almost impossible to explain, the feeling of not having freedom, to be stripped away of your freedom, of your dignity, the respect you once had,” he said.
“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.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to see both sides of the human spirit. … My journey has been crazy but my journey has been a learning experience that is unlike any other.”
Banks, who will take on the inside linebacker spot for the Falcons, expects no favors and realizes there’s a long road ahead:
“I don’t expect any handouts or any favoritism,” Brian stated. “I’m here to work like everybody else and the result of my hard work will be whatever they deem necessary.”
“All I can do is my best and however the turnout will be, I thank God for the opportunity.”
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