Brian Banks was 16 years old when his life was changed forever. By all accounts he was a gifted athlete destined for a colorful career in college and the NFL. But when he and a high school acquaintance named Wanetta Gibson stole off into a stairwell on campus to make out, he emerged as the alleged perpetrator of a kidnapping and rape. At 16, he was headed to prison as a rapist, and his NFL dreams were over.
The Past is Prologue...
In 2002 when Brian Banks was charged with kidnapping and rape, he was a bright star at Long Beach Poly High School. Had his life not been interrupted, he likely would have attended USC, whose Pete Carroll had already offered Banks a full ride scholarship. Even in 2012, after Banks had been exonerated and was being looked at professionally, it is quite clear that Brian was indeed headed for athletic greatness.
Like … dead-lift 545 pounds, box jump 55 inches flat-footed, broad jump 10-plus feet and run a 4.6 40, all at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds. NFL trainer Gavin Macmillan, who has volunteered to train Banks for free, says he has a shot. "You see him run and you can see why USC wanted him."
Accusation and Plea
When Wanetta Gibson accused Banks of the kidnapping and rape, there really wasn't much to the case. There was He Said/She Said testimony from the two parties. There was no rape kit. And there were no witnesses. In retrospect, it kind of adds up. But unfortunately, the issue of rape is a sensitive one and Brian's physical attributes worked against him. Because he was a large athletic young black man, his attorney insisted he take a plea instead of fighting the charge. Three times Brian refused the pleas offered to him. 25 years, 19 years, 12 years, none of these were acceptable to Brian - he was innocent. A trial would have Brian facing 40+ years in what his attorney termed a sure conviction. Finally his attorney (for whose services Brian's mother had sold her house and her car to finance) came to him with a 'sweet' deal. Brian would plead guilty, then serve 90 days in Chino for observation. After that he could receive either 6 years, 3 years, or probation. His attorney GUARANTEED Brian that he would receive probation. He just wanted to go home, and took the plea. After his 90 days in Chino, what Brian referred to as the hardest 90 days of his life, he returned to court. The judge gave him the maximum available, 6 years with time served, which amounted to 5 years and 2 months. He would also serve 5 years probation and was now a lifetime sex offender.
It was while on probation that the thought of returning to football occurred to Brian. After believing he had lost any chance of playing again, Brian got an opportunity to participate in a league associated with the community college he was enrolled in. After become used to the fact that he would be able to play again, fate once again pulled the rug out from under him. A new law had been signed requiring ex convicts such as Brian to wear GPS ankle monitors at all times. He would no longer be able to play football as long as he was on probation. He was restricted from parks, schools and zoos and was lucky to find a job unloading docks.
Then luck smiled on Brian.
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