On his first day at his new job, Falcons linebacker Brian Banks said he’s delighted that his mom can say she has a son in the NFL.
Banks, the onetime high school football star who lost his scholarship to USC and spent five years in prison after he was falsely accused of rape, signed with the Falcons today and told reporters on a conference call that the person he’s thinking about the most on the day his NFL dream finally came true is his mom.
“I want to thank the Atlanta Falcons, the entire organization,” Banks said. “This is beyond me, this opportunity — my family, my mother who’s gone through so much, my mother who raised me to be the man I am today, who stood by me as I went through hell and back. When you talk about coming from the bottom, I know all too well what that is. . . . She is the strongest woman I know, and without her this would not be happening.”
Banks said his family always believed in his innocence, and believed he would be exonerated eventually. And he said that while getting a spot on an NFL offseason roster is a great first step, it’s not his ultimate goal.
“Besides getting my life and my freedom back, this is the biggest accomplishment of my life. But it is also just the beginning,” Banks said. “Making it onto the 53-man roster with the Atlanta Falcons is definitely, for me, in my situation and everything that I’ve overcome, that is a successful career for me.”
As glad as Banks is to be where he is today, he also discussed how tough it was to be falsely accused and imprisoned. Even after his prison sentence ended, before his accuser admitted she made the whole thing up, Banks had a difficult life as a man who wasn’t really free: Banks talked today about how difficult it was being a registered sex offender, which meant that he couldn’t find any company willing to hire him for any job and couldn’t ever go within 2,000 feet of a school, as monitored by the GPS device locked to his ankle.
“I wish that no one has to experience what I’ve been through,” Banks said.
Banks has been through a lot, but he doesn’t sound like a bitter man. He sounds mostly like a man who’s glad to know he made his mom proud.
Photo via Atlanta Falcons on Instagram.