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Brian Banks (American football)

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Brian Banks
refer to caption
Banks in 2018
No. 53
Position:Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1985-07-24) July 24, 1985 (age 35)
Los Angeles County, California, United States
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
High school:Long Beach Polytechnic
(Long Beach, California)
College:N/A
Undrafted:2007
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com

Brian Banks (born July 24, 1985)[1] is a former American football player. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) on April 3, 2013.[2][3] Banks previously signed as an undrafted free agent with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League in 2012.[4][5]

Banks was a standout high school football star at Polytechnic High School (Poly) in Long Beach, California. In 2002, his Junior year, Banks verbally committed to USC.[6] After being falsely accused of rape by classmate Wanetta Gibson, he spent close to six years imprisoned and five years on parole, and had his conviction overturned in 2012 after his accuser confessed that she had fabricated the entire story. Following his exoneration, Banks sought to resume his football career, playing for the now defunct United Football League (UFL), attending mini-camps for several NFL teams, and later signing with the Atlanta Falcons.

High school career[edit source | edit]

A native of Long Beach, California, Banks attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School, where he was teammates with DeSean Jackson, Darnell Bing, Winston Justice, and Marcedes Lewis. He was named one of Rivals.com's "Juniors to Watch" of the class of 2003,[7] before being expelled from school due to a rape accusation, later proven to be false.

Professional career[edit source | edit]

In the summer of 2012, Banks received tryouts with several NFL teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. He attended minicamp with the Seattle Seahawks, whose head coach, Pete Carroll, had offered Banks a scholarship in 2002 when he was head coach at USC.[2][8]

Las Vegas Locomotives[edit source | edit]

Banks signed with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL on September 20, 2012, appearing in two games and making one tackle before the UFL suspended its season in October.[9]

Atlanta Falcons[edit source | edit]

Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on April 3, 2013, participating in offseason workouts, OTAs, and training camp.[10][11] Banks made his NFL debut in a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he picked up two tackles.[12][13] He played four preseason games with the Falcons before being released on August 30, 2013.[14]

National Football League (NFL)[edit source | edit]

Brian Banks after his exoneration

In 2014, Banks was asked by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to speak at the 2014 NFL draft Rookie Symposium. Banks accepted and his speech was well received. A few weeks later, he was hired to join the NFL Department of Operations.[15][16]

Personal life[edit source | edit]

In May 2015, Banks married Emanuela Marinova. They had no children and filed for divorce in February 2017.[17]

False accusation of sexual assault[edit source | edit]

In the summer of 2002, then 16-year-old Banks was arrested and charged after classmate Wanetta Gibson falsely accused him of dragging her into a stairway and raping her. Faced with a possible 41 years to life sentence, he accepted a plea bargain that included five years in prison, five years of probation, and registering as a sex offender. Gibson and her mother Wanda Rhodes sued the Long Beach Unified School District, claiming the Poly campus was not a safe environment, and won a $1.5 million settlement.[18][19] Banks says that the lawyer said that by pleading guilty he would receive probation, but no jail time.[20]

Confession of false accusation[edit source | edit]

In March 2011, Gibson contacted Banks on Facebook, met with him, and admitted in the presence of a private investigator Banks had hired that she had fabricated the story. Banks secretly recorded Gibson's confession, but she later refused to tell prosecutors that she had lied so she would not have to return the money she and her family had won in court.[19]

California Innocence Project[edit source | edit]

Prior to the taped confession, Banks had asked for help from the California Innocence Project (CIP), a nonprofit law school clinic run by the San Diego-based California Western School of Law that investigates and litigates cases of actual innocence. At that time, however, there had not been sufficient evidence of Banks' innocence for them to take on the case. However, after the confession, CIP decided to make it the organization's first case involving a wrongfully convicted person who had already been released from prison.[19]

The video evidence was not admissible in court because the video had been made without Gibson's knowledge or consent and was not accompanied by a signed confession from the young woman. However, CIP was instrumental in putting together additional evidence supporting Banks' story, which led the district attorney to dismiss all charges against him on May 24, 2012. He was also released from sex offender status, allowing him to resume his sports career.[20][21][22]

Banks supports CIP in its efforts on behalf of the wrongly convicted, participating in CIP's 2013 Innocence March.[23] He often wears a shirt with the lettering "XONR8" ("exonerate").[20][23]

School lawsuit[edit source | edit]

On April 12, 2013, the Long Beach Unified School District announced it was suing Wanetta Gibson for $2 million in an effort to recoup the $1.5 million she received, along with attorney's fees and punitive damages.[24] On June 14, 2013, the school district won a $2.6 million judgment against Gibson, which includes the $750,000 settlement initially paid to her along with attorney's fees, interest, and $1 million in punitive damages.[25][26] During the suit, Gibson went into hiding and failed to appear at any court dates. She was due a second $750,000 payment under terms of the original 2007 deal, which was cancelled.[27]

Film adaptation[edit source | edit]

A feature film project based on Banks' story, co-executive produced by Banks and Justin Brooks of CIP, premiered in 2018 and was released in August 2019.[28][29] It is directed by Tom Shadyac and features Aldis Hodge as Banks, Greg Kinnear as Brooks and Tiffany Dupont as CIP attorney Alissa Bjerkhoel.[28][30]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. "California Births, 1905 - 1995". Family Tree Legends. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Adams, Jay (April 3, 2013). "Falcons Sign LB Brian Banks". atlantafalcons.com. Archived from the original on April 6, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. "Brian Banks released by Atlanta Falcons". NFL.com. August 30, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  4. "Brian Banks to play for Locomotives". ESPN. Associated Press. September 19, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. CBS/AP (September 19, 2012). "Brian Banks, football player exonerated in rape case, to sign with UFL team". CBS News. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. Associated Press (September 20, 2012). "Brian Banks signs with Las Vegas UFL team". Press-Telegram. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. Kimbrel, Rick (March 29, 2002). "Junior To Watch: Brian Banks". Rivals.com. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. "Pete Carroll excited to give Brian Banks a chance". Profootballtalk.nbcsports.com. Retrieved April 3, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. Farnsworth, Clare. "Brian Banks gets another shot at NFL". Blog.seahawks.com. Retrieved April 3, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. Shoichet, Catherine (April 4, 2013). "Exonerated Brian Banks signs with Atlanta Falcons". CNN.com. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved April 4, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. "Atlanta Falcons sign exonerated Brian Banks". ESPN. May 12, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. "Exonerated Football Player Brian Banks Back on the Gridiron After Five Years in Prison". ABC News. Retrieved August 12, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. De Artola, Alicia (August 8, 2013). "Brian Banks makes NFL debut after false rape conviction". Fansided. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. Patra, Kevin (August 30, 2013). "Brian Banks released by Atlanta Falcons". National Football League. Retrieved August 30, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. "Exonerated of rape, Brian Banks now realizing NFL dream – in different capacity". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved January 27, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. "BANKS' NFL DREAM LEADS TO LEAGUE OFFICE". Atlanta Falcons. Archived from the original on May 23, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. "Exonerated Football Star Brian Banks Getting Divorced". TMZ. Retrieved August 8, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. "Ex-Poly standout has rape and kidnapping conviction reversed". USA Today. Gannett. May 24, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "A 10-year nightmare over rape conviction is over". Los Angeles Times. May 25, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Myers, Gary (January 25, 2015). "Brian Banks spent five years in prison after being falsely accused of rape, but now he finally has a career in NFL". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 6, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. "Brian Banks". California Innocence Project. California Innocence Project. Retrieved January 6, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. Koehler, Francie (December 12, 2013). "Exonerating the Innocent". PI’s Declassified. VoiceAmerica. Retrieved January 6, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Cocca, Christina (May 11, 2013). "Brian Banks and His Mother Join "Innocence March" to Protest Wrongful Convictions". NBC-4 Los Angeles. NBC. Retrieved January 6, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. Lowrey, Brandon (April 12, 2013). "Long Beach School District Sues Brian Banks' Accuser for $2M". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. Mellen, Greg (June 14, 2013). "Long Beach Unified wins judgment against accuser in false rape case against Brian Banks". Press-Telegram. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. Mellen, Greg (June 14, 2018). "Long Beach Unified wins judgment against accuser in false rape case against Brian Banks". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved November 19, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. "Prosecution of false accuser in rape case seen as difficult". LA Times. May 26, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Lee, Ashley (September 28, 2017). "Tiffany Dupont Joins Greg Kinnear in Brian Banks Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 6, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  29. Detling, Dave (October 9, 2017). "Brian Banks Movie Production Filming In Memphis, Seeks Football "Fans"". localmemphis.com (Channel 24). Nexstar Media Group. Retrieved January 6, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  30. "'Brian Banks': Trailer released for movie filmed in Memphis". Commercialappeal.com. April 24, 2019.

External links[edit source | edit]