Brian Banks, the former high school standout linebacker who was wrongfully convicted of rape and kidnapping, is getting a chance to earn a spot on the Seattle Seahawks‘ roster.
ESPN reports that the Seahawks are expected to try him out on June 7. Pete Carroll, who previously recruited him to play at USC back when Banks was a teen, is the Seahawks’ head coach.
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And the Seahawks aren’t alone: Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins have also called Banks.
Banks is 26-years-old and hasn’t played competitive football since high school. Making the step up from a competitive college program is a rigorous transition for most all-Americans, let alone a man who hasn’t been hit in 10 years. Still, this recent news is just the beginning of brighter days for Banks.
Watch Brian Banks’ speak about his new life here:
Up until last week, though, Banks’ life couldn’t be bleaker. As NewsOne reported, Banks was convicted for raping and kidnapping Wanetta Gibson in 2002, after they made out in their high school, Long Beach Poly-Technical, stairwell.
Soon after, Gibson accused Banks of rape and kidnapping. Banks’ attorney insisted that he take a plea. While Banks didn’t want to admit to a crime he didn’t commit, the plea deal — which was supposed to amount to 18 months in prison — looked better than the 40-plus years he faced if convicted.
Once he took the plea, though, Banks was sentenced to six years in prison — a far cry from the 18 months he was advised he’d receive.
Gibson, on the other hand, earned a hefty $750,000 check, after her mother sued the high school for lack of security.
When Banks was released from prison, he had to wear a GPS-tracking device, register as a sex offender, and keep way from schools, zoos, and parks. He couldn’t get a job, and was lucky to get a few hours unloading docks.
Last year, he got a Facebook friend request from Gibson saying, “Let’s let bygones be bygones.”
Yes, she really wrote that.
Banks hired a private investigator who video recorded her saying that she lied about the rape and kidnapping. The California Innocence Project took up his case and helped get his conviction overturned. A Facebook campaign asking for USC to reinstate his scholarship began last week.
Asked about his chances to play on the NFL gridiron by ESPN, Banks says he’ll do his best:
“I’ll make ’em happy,” says Banks, who’s been training non-stop since October. “After all I’ve been through these last 10 years, I can still do some things that will impress you.
“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.”
And if the NFL doesn’t pan out? Banks already has all kinds of job offers. One of them is to “work in the front office and explore other sports opportunities” for the Arizona Diamondbacks. “I about fell out of my seat when I read that one,” Banks said.
Everyone who’s been following Mr. Banks’ story is falling out of their seats with joy over the wonderful opportunities that are falling in his lap. Though many would argue his chances of joining an NFL team for training camp are slim, Banks’ road to a great future has clearly been re-paved.
If, in fact, Banks does earn a spot on an NFL roster, even if it is on one of the special teams, his number may easily be the best-selling jersey this season. It would be well-deserved because the brotha certainly deserves more than $100 for each day he spent in prison. (He is suing the state of California.)
Everyone is cheering for you, Brian. We hope you make the NFL roster so that one day folks will be screaming your names from the rafters.