Exonerated LB Banks signs with the Atlanta Falcons

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm •  Published: April 3, 2013
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ATLANTA (AP) — Brian Banks said signing with the Atlanta Falcons is his second-biggest accomplishment.

The biggest was Banks' exoneration of rape charges one year ago.

Banks, 27, signed with the Falcons on Wednesday, giving him an opportunity he said he did not believe would be possible when he spent five years in prison and five years on probation following his conviction of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago.

"I felt at the time in order for me to exit prison with a sane mind and be able to just function as a person I had to let go of certain dreams and goals I once held in life, football being one of them," Banks said.

Banks said he "couldn't have asked for a better place to be" than with the Falcons.

"I can't believe this is happening," he said. "It's surreal."

Banks was a 16-year-old junior and had made a verbal commitment to sign with Southern Cal when a Long Beach Poly high school classmate accused him of the rape.

The woman recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name after he was out of prison. That helped lead to the conviction being overturned by a California court and Banks' record cleared on May 12, 2012.

Banks said he read every book he could find while in prison and also learned to value every opportunity.

"It's almost impossible to explain, the feeling of not having freedom, to be stripped away of your freedom, of your dignity, the respect you once had," he said. "To lose it all and watch the world pass you by as you sit inside a prison cell, knowing you shouldn't be there, knowing you're there because of another person's lies, to lose it all and then get it all back, it's a very humbling, spiritual feeling that you just don't want to take anything for granted.

"I've had the opportunity to see both sides of the human spirit. ... My journey has been crazy but my journey has been a learning experience that is unlike any other."

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