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Football Player Who Spent Five Years In Jail On Wrongful Rape Conviction Signs With Atlanta Falcons

The latest step in a stunning comeback.

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As a junior in the class of 2003, Brian Banks was a linebacker prospect out of Long Beach, CA who had committed verbally to play for Pete Carroll at USC.

But what potentially looked to be an NFL-track career went to hell when, falsely accused of rape by a classmate, Banks ended up in prison for five years. As outlined by 60 Minutes' report, the timeline of this story is heinous:

1. DNA samples came back negative, excluding Banks as a match.

2. Banks' mother had to sell her house and her car to afford a lawyer.

3. Banks' lawyer then advised him, despite the DNA result, to plead no contest to a crime he didn't commit because she thought his race and appearance would bias him toward being convicted, and a conviction could carry a sentence of up to 41 years in prison.

4. After pleading no contest, Banks faced a sentence of 18 months to five years — and then received the maximum.

5. Banks served 85% of his sentence and then five years of parole, during which he was required to wear an ankle bracelet at all times.

However, Banks' road to being exonerated began when the alleged victim contacted him on Facebook asking to hang out (!). After meeting with her, and with the help of a private detective, Banks managed to extract from her a confession that he did not rape or kidnap her.

Here is Banks cutting off his ankle monitor after being declared innocent of the crime he spent a decade atoning for.

It gets even better. Five days after being released, Banks got a call. The guy on the other line said this:

That guy was Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and the one who initially recruited Banks to USC.

While Banks didn't catch on with the Seahawks, that call did grease the wheels toward getting him into the NFL. And, with Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reporting that he's signed with

Banks still needs to make the final roster, which will be tough. But either way, the hard part is over, and Banks already feels victorious.