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. blerg

    What a turn around for this guy. I hope he does well in the future.

    September 22, 2012 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    Irony here is both remained friends (at least on speaking terms) while he was imprisoned. Her family got the $1.7M settlement from the school board. When she was assured her family could keep the money and she would not be prosecuted for pursuing the false charges....She spoke up! Bottom line he had a bad public defender who work for a low salary , the family had a good one who
    worked for a piece of the pie.

    September 22, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @ PT, I'm gonna hafta call you on this.
      Citation please 😉 lol . Good Morning

      September 22, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. johndanger

    Excellent. This made my day. I've been hoping that this story would have happy ending (or beginning). Hope to see you in the NFL next season.

    September 22, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Pro2A

    I doubt he'll ever make the NFL. Unfortunately he's too old by NFL standards. If he ever does make a team I doubt you would ever see him on the field. Even at 26 he wouldn't be able to compete against the youndger players. I hope I'm wrong, just my opinion.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike the American

    Glad to hear the guy will get his chance. What about the woman... is she in jail yet for lying under oath?

    September 22, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dude

    This what makes the US a great nations. Making movies about other people and insulting them, no so much

    September 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Don't worry, someone will make a movie about his life...

      September 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • DallasJeff

      My money says you are just upset it was one of your own mocking muhammed.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • sdgman

      Having the right to make movies that people disagree with is one of the many things that make this country great.

      September 23, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      SDGMAN- AGREE! Who made the movie is not important- the fact that we need to realize we have the right to do it- and burn our own flag, is the important thing. Without those rights, our system is not worth defending.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • buttcheeser

      this has nothing to do with Innocence of a Muslim, but the Innocence of a rapist. The woman should be imprisoned for as long as he was.

      September 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stand Your Ground

    Her name is Wanetta Gibson. Google it.

    September 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. garwin1

    Aren't they pretty much all ex-inmates?

    September 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      know inside

      September 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheCorrector


      September 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. dc3gal

    Doesn't matter about the race of the woman, she lied and took away some years of this man's life and God only knows what he went thru while in prison. This woman needs to go to prison. Why do women do this to men? I am a woman and I don't understand this. It's just not right and she needs to face some sort of music for this. Someone in these posts said this woman sued the school and got alot of money? If that is the case then she needs to be giving that back. She should NOT be allowed to get away with this. I wish this man the best in his life and I am sorry he had to go thru this.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
    • john

      I agree send her butt into the clink for the same amount of time and let everyone in the place know why. False accusers deserve the same punishment as the person who actually commits the kinds of crime they falsely accused another of!

      September 24, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Albro

    And what sentence will this lying female serve??

    September 23, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |

    so does the chick get charged for lying or wasting this guys life...

    September 23, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Hollywood

    I wish him nothing bv the best in life.

    September 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hollywood

    I wish him nothing but the best in life. But someone does need to pay some type of penalty here.

    September 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. 1amazed1

    Wow. It hurts to think of all the innocent people in prison. What a nightmare. Good luck to you. You deserve the best.

    September 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. YouArePennState

    Since when is an inmate in the NFL news?

    September 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • peep

      It's news because unlike all the other thugs in the NFL, he is innocent. He served time for no reason, and most of the others should serve time, but never will.

      September 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick Scott

      And since when does anything you say really make any sense?

      September 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
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