SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – His football ambitions were cut short by a false accusation that left him in prison, but now Brian Banks is living his football dream and playing professionally.
“It’s been day and night, but the days have been very bright,” said Banks.
That’s how he describes his unbelievable transition from convicted rapist and sex offender to professional football player.
“It was just a dream come true,” said Banks.
It was a dream put on hold while Banks, 27, served five years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit, and five more years as a registered sex offender.
“I wasn’t able to leave the county. I wasn’t able to leave the state. I had a curfew,” said Banks.
All those limitations crushed his dreams of playing on a professional football team. Prior to his conviction at 17, Banks planned to play at the University of Southern California.
“It was a challenge I accepted. I had no control over the situation, but I did have control of me while in that situation,” said Banks.
Banks says he used that discipline to prepare himself for the day his name would be cleared.
“I was working out every single day in hopes of an opportunity with a team,” said Banks.
That opportunity came just days after his exoneration. First, it was with a call from the Seattle Seahawks, and now a team spot on the Las Vegas Locomotives, who played in Sacramento on Wednesday.
“To be here now is what I’ve been working hard for; what I’ve always envisioned is the opportunity to play,” said Banks.
Banks is using his new opportunity as a chance to speak up for others who may have been wrongly convicted by joining forces with the California Innocence Project to support Proposition 34 and do away with the death penalty.
“I get countless emails and messages through Twitter from families who say their brother, father, husband or fiancé, or even a female in their family, has been wrongfully convicted,” said Banks.
While Banks’ conviction was not a death penalty case, he believes he’s living proof that death should never be on the table.
“There are people behind bars that have been wrongfully convicted and don’t deserve to die,” said Banks.