Brian Banks impressed
He was falsely accused of rape and spent five years in
prison and another five on parole, his life seemingly
ruined. So it
would be understandable if Brian Banks was a bitter man.
But in an exclusive interview with 97.3 KIRO FM’s Dori
Monson, what’s most amazing is his lack of anger.
“I’ve been there I’ve had those days when I was upset and
bitter. I later realized that hanging on to those
emotions and being in that mindset, it only affected me.
It never changed the situation nor did it change the
thought process of the people who put me in that
situation,” Banks said in the interview moments after he
completed a private workout with the Seattle Seahawks.
“I really just realized that I needed to worry and focus
on me rather than the situation and that’s really what
ultimately got me where I am today.”
Banks was a 16-year-old high school football star in Long
Beach, Calif. when a girl accused him of rape.
A promising career that was to include a scholarship was
ruined when he accepted a plea agreement rather than risk
decades in prison. Banks said his court-appointed lawyer
warned him he’d face an all-white jury that would surely
convict him regardless of his innocence and encouraged him
to plead no contest.
“All I could think of at the age of 17 was ‘how can I get
out of this jail cell, how can I get home to my family?’
And the quickest way that I saw was to plead to no
contest and hope and pray that probation was in store for
me. And it turned out to be six years in prison,” Banks
He never gave up his dream of playing professional
football, but even after his release, he was placed on
parole, monitored by an ankle bracelet, and forced to stay
within Los Angeles County.
“I couldn’t live within 2,000 feet of any school or park,
I had to register as a sex offender and I pretty much lost
10 years of my life,” Banks said.
Things changed for Banks recently when, in a strange turn
of events, his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on
Facebook when he got out of prison. The childhood friends
met and she admitted she lied and offered to help him
clear his name.
But Gibson refused to repeat the story to prosecutors
she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment
from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach
During a second meeting that was secretly videotaped, she
told Banks, “I will go through with helping you, but it’s
like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean
gave me, I don’t want to have to pay it back,” according
to a defense investigator who was at the meeting.
But Banks refused to say anything about the woman who cost
him so much.
“I don’t have any feelings whether they be good or bad. I
feel like the truth speaks for itself. I’m just thankful
to be where I am today and that’s free,” Banks told Dori.
His tryout went so well, coach Pete Carroll has
invited Banks to return for another tryout next week at
the Seahawks’ minicamp.
“It’s a long road. It’s a long way to go and I’m ready for
that. I’m definitely good enough to be here now with the
opportunity of a workout and tryout. I feel like with
some great professional coaching, I’m only going to get
better and I will get better. And there’s only one way to
go and that’s up from here,” Banks said.
Carroll, who recruited Banks as a teenager when he coached
at USC, said after the tryout he has been extremely
impressed with the now 26-year-old both on and off the
“I was really proud to be able to say that to him and the
light in his eye, the emotion that was running through him
throughout the day, but at that moment, was amazing,”
Carroll said about offering Banks a spot at minicamp.
Even Carroll admits it’s a long shot for Banks to make the
team. But the grateful young man says compared to the
obstacles he’s overcome the past decade, he’s more than
ready for the opportunity.
“Everyday I’m just thanking God. Two weeks ago I was
just a guy on parole labeled a sex offender and just
trying to deal with the situation at hand. Today, I’m a
free man and working out with the Seattle Seahawks,” Banks
-JOSH KERNS/MY NORTHWEST.COM
The Associated Press contributed to this report.