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. mitchncincy

    If she has any of those millions she sued the school for left the money should have to be turned over to this man or given back to the school but I prefer he got it. If not he should sue her for whatever she does have make her suffer for what she did to him.

    September 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • zack daniels

      it said she was broke and on welfare

      September 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Walt

    last i heard filing a false police report was a crime.

    September 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. S.R.

    Good luck Brian. I hope they gave her at least six years in jail to even out the score!

    September 24, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. LOLOL

    So happy for you, man! Keep it up, you are an amazing inspiration!

    September 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew

    she got $750,000.00 from the school in a settlement as well, and they won't try to sue her back now

    September 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. carlos

    great news!!

    September 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cboy619

    Wanetta Gibson

    September 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bernadette Capossela

    What an incredible story. I love how he never gave up his dream, even when it seem like just that, a dream. I expect that Brian Banks will do great things with his life and football will only be one small contribution. Now this is a role model that all kids can look up to!

    September 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fredd fezzo

    So when does the lying woman go to prison for perjury? Two different sets of laws on the books: one for men, another for women. And yet, isn't it odd that it's the women who never stop sniveling about equal treatment under the law? When was the last time this criminal woman had to worry about registering for the draft, for example? It's the height of hypocrisy.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charmain

      Although you have a some good points I believe you are coming across a little angry and jaded with women. Anyone that accuses someone of a crime they did not do should get punished especially if they did time and then where found innocent. I personally think that if their is another draft we have come far enough that the government will push a limited female draft law into action if it comes to that. I personally do not think it is a good idea but I am an old school female who thinks that women should not be forced to go to war unless it is to defend the homeland from invasion.

      October 2, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    Like its been said before women can literally ruin somebody's life that's how badly the court is stacked against men. (sometimes)

    September 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Franklin

    What happened to the accuser? Is she behind bars for lying to officials? Certainly hope so.

    October 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Franklin

    Thanks. Could Banks sue the woman for slander or whatever other charge?

    October 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Franklin

    Could Banks sue the woman for slander or whatever other charge?

    October 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. shawn from san diego

    i remember this story, soo sad and he forgave her! A good man with a big heart. I hope he does well and go far, people like him are a blessing to this world.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sean

    Michael Vick's been back for awhile, oh wait.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
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