Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team
Brian Banks speaks at a press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday.
September 21st, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team

Brian Banks' professional football dream is one step closer to coming true.

A decade ago, Banks was a football standout at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California and had been offered a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California.

Then he was accused of rape. Fearing a potentially long sentence, he followed the advice of his attorney and pleaded no contest to assaulting a classmate.

But he maintained his innocence throughout nearly six years of imprisonment, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender.

And, according to the California Innocence Project, the woman later admitted that Banks had not kidnapped or raped her during a consensual encounter.

A judge in California tossed out his conviction in May.

On Thursday, Banks, 26,  had his first practice with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, a four-team minor league circuit. He hopes to be on the field Wednesday in the Locos home opener against the Virginia Destroyers.

“There was a point in my life where I literally had to put football aside to survive in prison. I came home in 2007, went to junior college, and then had to wear a GPS tracking device and I could not play football. But I never lost faith, and I never lost that passion for it,” Banks said at a press conference on Thursday.

Locomotives coach and general manager Jim Fassel says Banks, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker, has the character to excel at professional football.

"I can only imagine the toughness he has had to show over the last however many years. For him to clearly set his goals and go after them, he’s mentally tough. He has all the characteristics you want of someone on your team," Fassel, a former NFL coach, said at the press conference Thursday.

Banks worked out with NFL teams earlier this year and they told him what he needs to do to make it to the sport's top level. Then he got the call from the Locomotives.

“This has been an amazing journey,” he said Thursday. "This is big, a giant step to my overall pursuit of playing in the NFL. I think this is the best way to gain experience. I thank God for the opportunity.”

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Filed under: California • Football • Justice • Las Vegas • Nevada • Sports
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. moonglowsun

    I hope the SHE now gets to knownthe inside of jail cell life for lying under oath & bringing a false claim against this man.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    Glad to see this cat got another chance at his dream. With an 11 year old son who dreams about playing at the next level, I'm proud to share this man's story with him.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Guest

    We need a "registry" for all these lying false accusation people so we can shun them too! I hope this gal is doing just fine after what she tried to pull on this guy! She should be doing the time he might have gotten! At very least a serious civil payout so he can retire any time he wants to. These perjury falas epolice reports etc are in need of some serious penalties.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Yeah, and to think some vigilantie could have shot and killed him the day before he was exonerated and be hailed a hero.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Truth

    Gotta love this country...these r@pe apes do the deed, but still get rewarded in the end.....

    September 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Livingston

      Put the pipe down, Truth. You're tweeking and acting out again.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    I wish this man well in all his future endeavors.
    Goog luck.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      That should be *good* luck.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      This is a good story and I hope him the usual though we have to endure the dumb racist comments of the electronic Klan who's members still don't cut holes for ventilations, ergo...the stupid comments.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobjones

    Obama voter.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iowan

      That remark shows you have a serious lack of maturity along with a lack of intellect. Glad not to know you.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. obamasinoverhishead

    I thought the article was about Michael Vick

    September 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iowan

      Obviously, you've overtaxed your brain.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      really? the need to be a smartazz is so funny with people.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. liz

    Good for him hope all his dreams come true.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jasmine

    If he has been through all this he will do just fine on the field. He was given another chance at life for a reason, make it count. This woman,if we can call her that,has no conscience whatsoever. I wish him the very best and hopefully he will choose more wisely.....................his women. I dont even know this guy but feel he is deserving. I would hope there is some sort of recourse on her part.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck

    Why say Ex-Inmate"? This guy was wrongfully accused and railroaded into prison. He did nothing wrong except listen to a lazy attorney. Shouldnt he be classified as Wrongfully imprisoned instead of ex-inmate? Why make the guy sound like a bad guy when he is clearly not...?

    September 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan S

      Chuck: Regarding your comment that Mr. Banks had "a lazy attorney", I was a criminal defense attorney for many years. Usually, when the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction, the defense attorney advises the defendant that a plea bargain is the best course - and ultimately the client decides. It's never an easy decision. Lots of people who actually committed the crimes charged against them tell their lawyers they are innocent, so often the attorney really doesn't know if his client committed the crime or not. The problem in this case wasn't so much the defense attorney as the lying woman who claimed to be a victim.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • sosideirish

      Exactly! What about that piece of trash who testified and got him sent to prison? Shouldn't there be some charges lodged against her, or does she get away with ruining a man's life?

      September 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mark

    Sounds like the perfect place for him.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ryan

    That woman should go to prison for life.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dbw

    I thought the NFL was all ex-cons

    September 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. x

    Way to go Brian..

    September 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sunny in Alaska

    Exinmate gets 2nd shot at football ? Aren't almost 3rd of NFL players exinmates now adays.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
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