Found April 03, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
Eleven years ago, Brian Banks was wrongly convicted on rape charges. On Wednesday, he signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons. "I just want to thank god for the opportunity, I want to thank god for life, for getting me through five years of prison, five years of parole, of wrongful conviction, having my life given back to me, still being healthy and mentally sane to basically attain the goals I've always wanted from childhood," Banks said in a conference call with Atlanta media. While the Falcons could use an upgrade at linebacker, its hard to say if Banks will be that answer. He is 27 and has never played in the NFL. He will have to prove himself to coaches soon, once offseason activities begin. One possible scenario: The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder earns a spot on the practice squad, for which he is eligible. Banks' only professional or college, for that matter experience came in 2012 with the United Football League's Las Vegas Locomotives, posting one tackle in two games. Previously, he received tryouts with the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers and attended minicamp with the Seattle Seahawks coached by Pete Carroll, who recruited Banks out of high school to play at the University of Southern California when Carroll served as the Trojans head coach. But Wednesday was not so much about the Falcons making a major roster move, but about a story of human redemption. According to the Web site of the California Innocence Project, which helped exonerate Banks, a high school acquaintance of Banks, Wanetta Gibson, accused Banks of rape and kidnapping following a consensual sexual encounter on the campus of Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Calif., which Banks attended. Based on Gibson's accusations, Banks faced 41 years to life in prison. Instead of fighting the charges, he opted to plead 'no contest' and accepted a sentence that would put him in jail for about five years. He served five years and two months before he was released on May 24, 2012. Gibson ultimately recanted her statements and, according the California Innocence Project, acknowledged she fabricated the whole story. The Innocence Project is a nonprofit run by California Western Law School that lists as its mission as seeking "freedom for those innocent people whose lives have been condemned to an unjust existence behind bars." The CIP presented evidence of Banks' innocence to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, which conducted an investigation and ultimately concluded that Banks was wrongfully convicted. Judge Mark C. Kim of Los Angeles Superior Court reversed Banks' conviction last May. In a statement, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff spoke of working Banks out last year and monitoring his progress since then. "He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year, and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity," Dimitroff said. "We are 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." Perhaps the Falcons were motivated, in part, by another NFL redemption story with Atlanta roots. Seattle drafted 25-year-old linebacker Bruce Irvin (eight sacks as a rookie), an Atlanta native, with the 15th overall pick in last year's draft. Irvin had his own run-in with the law and never played football after his sophomore year of high school. He received his GED and enrolled in junior college before eventually transferring to West Virginia, where he starred. Whatever the Falcons' motivation, Banks was thankful for their decision. He was overcome with emotion to realize the moment for which he had long dreamed might finally come true. Banks credits his mother as an inspiration and for giving him the strength to make it through his ordeal. "This is beyond me," he said. "It's about football, it's about an opportunity but it is beyond me, this opportunity. My family, my mother who has gone through so much, my mother who raised me to be the man that I am today, who stood by me as I went through hell and back. "When we talk about coming from the bottom, I know all too well what that is, what it's about and what it looks like and what it feels like," said Banks. "So, she is the strongest woman that I know and without her this would not even be happening.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Exonerated LB Banks signs with the Atlanta Falcons

Brian Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday after the former Southern Cal recruit's football dream was derailed when he was convicted of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago. The linebacker will participate in Atlanta's offseason workouts with a chance to resume his career. Banks, 27, has been trying to get back into football since he was cleared on May...

Banks cashes in chance at NFL

There will be roughly 2,800 players vying for roster spots in NFL training camps. None will have a more inspirational story than linebacker Brian Banks. Banks - who spent a decade trying to exonerate himself for a crime he didn't commit - was signed Wednesday as a free agent by the Atlanta Falcons. "I can't believe this is happening. It's surreal," Banks...

Exonerated LB Banks signs with Falcons

ATLANTA (AP) -- Brian Banks said signing with the Atlanta Falcons is his second-biggest accomplishment. The biggest was Banks' exoneration of rape charges one year ago. Banks was a 16-year-old junior and had made a verbal commitment to sign with Southern Cal when a Long Beach Poly high school classmate accused him of the rape. The woman recanted her claim and offered to help...

Exonerated LB signs with Falcons

Brian Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday after the former Southern Cal recruit's football dream was derailed when he was convicted of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago. The linebacker will participate in Atlanta's offseason workouts with a chance to resume his career. Banks, 27, has been trying to get back into football since he was cleared on May...

Falcons sign LB Brian Banks

In a feel-good story, this morning the Atlanta Falcons signed LB Brian Banks. Many may wonder if this is publicity stunt or if it’s the real deal – I am leaning towards the real deal. Banks is a stud backer, largely recruited and had all the tools to be a great Linebacker before being sent to prison after being accused of raping a female in High School. Banks spent five years...

Exonerated Brian Banks Signs With The Falcons

If you have been following the Brian Banks story it is one of those things that makes you extremely mad and very happy. You hate the world. You love the world. All at the same time. Brian was a high school football star out of Long Beach. Heavily recruited and had verbally committed to USC his junior year. Everything was put on hold when he was accussed of rape and kidnapping. He...

The Brian Banks Saga Continues; Signed by Atlanta Falcons

Often times we wonder if there is any justice in the world at all; if there truly is such a thing as a happy ending (and not just the kind you get at a 'massage parlor'). It appears that at least where Brian Banks is concerned there might be. He is finally getting his chance in the NFL after being signed to a contract with the Atlanta Falcons (see the clip below to check...

Brian Banks Signs With The Falcons — KSK Kontent Klearinghouse

Brian Banks is the rare case in which “football player” and “rape” are mentioned and the football player is the victim. I mean, he wasn’t raped himself. That makes it sound like he was raped. He wasn’t raped. No, Banks was wrongly convicted of rape in high school, which derailed what was then a very promising football career. He served five years in prison before his...

Brian Banks signs with Falcons

Brian Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday after the former Southern Cal recruit's football dream was derailed when he was convicted of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago.

Falcons reportedly sign Brian Banks

According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Atlanta Falcons have signed free agent linebacker Brian Banks. Gang, I’m reporting the best scoop I could ever report: my man FINALLY has his dream back: Falcons have just signed @brianbanksfree!!!! — Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 3, 2013 It’s great to see Banks finally get signed by a team after years of serving a crime he didn...

Report: Brian Banks Signs With Falcons After Spending Five Years in Prison Falsely Accused of Rape, Kidnapping

It’s been a long time coming, but Brian Banks is finally receiving his shot at the NFL. The former USC linebacker recruit signed with the Falcons on Wednesday, according to Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com. Banks was falsely accused of rape while still in high school and served five years in prison after accepting a plea deal after his lawyer convinced him to. After Banks was released...

Dimitroff Signs Up Exonerated Linebacker Brian Banks

Way to make Falcon nation proud, Thomas Dimitroff.  Usually a team picking up a 6'2", 250lb linebacker in April doesn't make a lot of news.  This player has fine speed, between a 4.7 and 4.8 40, depending on the source.   But he has no game tape.  No college team.  No combine performance.  He has never played a snap in an NFL game.  He received a scholarship...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.