During the summer of 2002, Brian Banks was not just an average sixteen-year-old high school student. He was a highly-sought-after football recruit. With a full-ride scholarship to USC waiting, the future outside his window was dazzlingly bright.
To say that what happened next was a mere pulling down of the shades on that window would be a gross understatement. Banks was arrested after a classmate claimed that he’d raped her. In order to avoid a possible life sentence, he took a plea deal that put him in prison for five years and another five years’ probation after the prison sentence was served. In a strange twist of fate, his accuser contacted him after his release from prison and admitted the accusations were false. There are conflicting stories about how the truth and consequences of Banks’ accuser came to light. Whichever chronicle is correct, Banks was officially exonerated and his record cleared on May 12, 2012. With that clemency came the realization that not only had his outlook on life been drastically altered; his dreams of professional football probably had to change as well.
Or did they?
While getting his life of freedom on track, he was able to try out with various NFL teams. Events came full circle when one of the tryouts was with the Seattle Seahawks and their head coach Pete Carroll—the same Pete Carroll who was head coach at USC when Banks made his college commitment known. He ended up joining the United Football League in September 2012, but was derailed again when financial problems shut down the league in October 2012.
However, one of those NFL teams was still watching, and that team continued to study Banks in his determination to get to the NFL. The dream would not die, no matter how weak the flame may have been. That dream gained a definitive life of its own on April 3, 2013, when Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
Banks has been to the very depths of rock bottom and has come further back up the ladder than most in that same situation given the same opportunity ever would. Second chances like this don’t come nearly often enough, and he will most assuredly make it count.
If he makes it to the 53-player roster, it won’t be necessary to look to a dark night sky for a shooting star. The newest and brightest star will be on the field on any given Sunday in season, wearing a Falcons uniform.