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Brian Banks: falsely imprisoned for rape, now playing NFL football


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The need to have a second chance and prove your own innocence is not something you would ever want to go through.


Sadly for Brian Banks, at the age of 16, he began an unwanted battle to prove his innocence after a fellow classmate, Wanetta Gibson, accused him of rape. His life would be forever changed.

A promising American Football player, Banks was offered a scholarship to play at top football college USC (University of Southern California), but it all came crashing down when the wrongful accusation landed him in jail for five years - a term that was originally 41 years.

After being told by his attorney that his chances of winning the case were impossible due to his stocky build and skin colour, he accepted a plea deal. It seemed that his mother’s actions of selling her car and home to pay for an attorney were all in vain.  

Brian Banks was going to jail for a crime he never committed.

Instead of living a life on the football field, crushing opposing players, Banks now had to deal with a life in a cell. It’s at this point where many of us would give up hope and grow a bitter hatred towards the world; Banks took a different approach.  .

Over the course of the next five years Banks learned to deal with the raw hand he had been given, and even after realising his dream to play in the NFL had faded, he maintained a positive outlook on life. When he served his five years, Banks was out of prison but still not a free man. Ordered to wear an electronic tag and sign onto the sex offenders list every year, it seemed that Banks was still in prison.

Trying to live a free life, Banks did as much as any man could considering he wasn’t allowed to leave his house at night, and again confined to four walls, he did what most of us do in today’s society; he joined Facebook.

Soon after joining the social network, Banks received a friend request from the very person who sent him to jail, Wanetta Gibson. Shell-shocked and speechless, Brian sat in his chair, wondering whether this was a real request or someone trying to play a joke one him.  Taking a risk, one he knew could send him right back to jail, he private messaged Gibson his phone number; this was when Banks decided to prove his innocence.

Suggesting that they meet in his friend’s office, who happened to be a private detective, Banks would get Gibson to admit she fabricated the rape accusations on tape. Unbeknownst to her, this was the beginning of Banks' redemption and second chance; 10 years after the ordeal began.

Once Brian Banks was exonerated he finally felt like a free man, his nightmare was over.  His life before the accusation resumed. It began with a phone call from the coach he was meant to play for in college, Pete Carroll.  He invited Banks to an NFL mini-camp for the Seattle Seahawks, the team Carroll currently coaches.  Other NFL teams, the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers, followed suit and extended invitations to Banks for a try-out.  Sadly he didn’t make any of the team’s rosters but in the summer of this year he signed with the Atlanta Falcons in the hope of making the team for the upcoming season.

Going through such an experience Banks knows his main focus isn’t primarily on football, it’s on more important things like enjoying each day as a free man, appreciating the finer things and above all else hope. 

Few of us will ever go through what Brian Banks went through, and for those unlucky enough to, they might not keep a positive mind frame or even think that someday they could clear their name and go on to live out their dream.

So folks, even if NFL isn’t your thing, keep a special ear out for number #53 on the Atlanta Falcons this season because his story is one that everyone should hear, a story of redemption and hope. Above all else, it should remind each and every one of us to be thankful for the life we have.

If you want to hear Brian’s story in his own words click on the following link. (NOTE: Skip to 20 minutes to begin Banks story)

Or to see CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ feature click here.

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