I just heard an interview with Brian Banks. At age 16, Brian Banks was accused by a girl he thought was a friend, of rape. His attorney told him the stark truth, “Your big, your black, and you’re likely to get 41 years.” He had to make a decision on the spot and wasn’t even allowed to talk to his mother. So, Brian conceded, and although he has always maintained his innocence he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 5 years in prison followed by probation.
Overnight Brian Banks went from promising high school football player, bound for the NFL to convicted sex offender. The accuser's family sued the school district for failing to protect their daughter and they were awarded 1.5 million dollars in damages.
End of story? No. Last week Brain Banks was proven innocent and the accuser recanted her story entirely. Brian is 26 years old now. This week he was given the unprecedented offer to try out for the Seattle Seahawks. In the interview Brian was asked why he wasn’t bitter. His response was something to the effect of “those feelings only weigh me down. I don’t need that.” As unbelievable as that is, he is very believable when he says it. In fact I believe every word.
Brian Banks had a lot of time in prison to be angry and bitter or be something else. He decided to focus on himself instead of his situation. He determined, even though he knew his life was taken from him, he would not be a victim. Brain Banks spent that time imagining playing in the NFL.
With no college ball under his belt, no professional coaching, and having not played ball for 10 years, Brian banks was given an invitation to try out and today he’s on a field working it. When he was asked if he’s good enough to make the team he replied, “I’m good enough to be trying out and with professional coaching I can only get better.”
This story is still unfinished. Brian Banks is a long shot. He may or may not play in the NFL. However, Brian says, “I won’t be defined by jail, and I won’t be defined by football. None of it changes who I am. None of it changes the man I am.”
I have a feeling he’s right, and no matter what happens on the field this week, he isn’t going to be defined by his circumstances.