Brian Banks Exonerated Of Rape, Signed By Falcons - FOX 35 News Orlando

Brian Banks Exonerated Of Rape, Signed By Falcons

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@Atlanta_Falcons @Atlanta_Falcons
Los Angeles, CA -

By: Christine Devine

It's the second chance he prayed he would get. Brian Banks, a once promising high school football player out of Long Beach who was wrongfully convicted of rape, signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Last may, Banks was exonerated of rape when his accuser recanted, but not before he spent five years in prison and another five years on parole.

Once cleared, he started working out. Last June, Pete Carroll, who recruited him at USC gave him a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks.That didn't work out, so he played briefly in the UFL before it folded.

Now, another shot at the NFL. He's been training at a gym in West Hollywood and eatiing like a bodybuilder. He knows it's a longshot trying to make the Falcons 53-man roster after barely playing any football in a decade. But in his words -- I've already won -- I have my freedom back. Banks is also working on a book and a documentary on his life.  He continues to volunteer with the California Innocence Project, the non-profit that won his exoneration.

"The Brian Banks Story"

The Innocence Project of California \| California Innocence ...

(FOX 11/CNS) - A former Long Beach high school football star who spent more than five years behind bars for rape but was exonerated after his accuser recanted her story came closer to his dream of playing in the National Football League today when he was signed by the Atlanta Falcons.

Brian Banks, 27, gushed thanks on his Twitter page to the team's management and players, saying, "Thank you for accepting me into the family."

Banks was exonerated in May 2012 after a judge in Long Beach agreed to throw out his 2003 conviction for forcible rape involving a girl on the campus of Long Beach Polytechnic High School a year earlier. Banks had dreamed of playing professional football and was expecting to attend USC on a football scholarship when he was arrested.

Although he received some interest from NFL teams since his release -- including from former USC coach Pete Carroll, now the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks -- Banks went unsigned. A 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker, Banks played last year for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.

"We are pleased to have Brian join our team," Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "We had a chance to work him out last year and have been monitoring his progress since then. He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity.

"We are happy that Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL and we look forward to seeing him on the field," Dimitroff said.

Banks was 16 when he was accused of rape on July 8, 2002, and 17 when he pleaded no contest to forcible rape in exchange for a six-year sentence -- considerably shorter than the 41-year-to-life term he could have faced if he had gone to trial and been convicted.

Last year, however, the alleged victim reached out to Banks and admitted she had lied, leading to his exoneration.

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