He served five years in prison and then five years of probation for a rape conviction that was thrown out in May 2012.
As Mark wrote at the time, Banks endured the “shame of being a registered sex offender” and “not being able to get a job” and thought his dream of playing in the NFL was gone forever.
Then his accuser admitted she had lied and her statement was the only piece of evidence against him.
Today Banks made some amazing news: The 27-year-old signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
He told ESPN the contract became his second-biggest accomplishment. The first was the exoneration.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” he told ESPN. “It’s surreal.”
He added: “I felt at the time in order for me to exit prison with a sane mind and be able to just function as a person I had to let go of certain dreams and goals I once held in life, football being one of them.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Banks tried out for the Falcons at the beginning of the 2012 season. It didn’t work out, so he spent the season with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.
The Times reports:
“But Wednesday, he was signing his new deal in a sweatshirt depicting a California license plate that read ‘XONR8’ and a black-and-white Dodgers baseball cap. He said a documentary on his life is in the works.
” ‘I can’t wait to meet all my teammates,’ Banks said. ‘To shake everyone’s hands, to start to learn names and build rapport with everybody. I am honored to play with those guys but I also view everyone, from players to coaches and everyone I meet throughout my experiences, as a human being just as I am.’ “
NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas told ESPN Banks has a good shot of making the squad as a backup.