Brian Banks: NFL's Season Opener Superstar - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Christine Devine

Brian Banks: NFL's Season Opener Superstar

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Brian Banks has been known by a lot of numbers in his lifetime. Now, he's #53 and Thursday, in the Falcons season opener he made his NFL debut. He tweeted "mom, I did it." Yes, Brian, YOU did it.

Football season is here and perhaps there is no more inspiring story than that of the former Long Beach high school football star. #53 stands for so much more than a number on an NFL jersey. For Brian Banks, a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, it stands for a second chance at the life of his dreams.

Banks, who spent ten years in prison for a crime he says never happened, wore the number with pride.

By all accounts, Brian's story is one for the storybooks. In high school, the football standout was wrongly convicted of raping a classmate. He spent five years in prison, five years on parole and was a registered sex offender. After a ten year hell his conviction was overturned when his classmate was caught on tape recanting.

Having spent some time with Brian I can tell you he earned every ounce of this opportunity. Not only did he always maintain his innocence, he got the attention and evidence The California Innocence Project needed to take his case. I'll never forget the day he was cleared. His attorney, Justin Brooks, pleaded before the cameras for the NFL to "give this man a chance."

Brian failed to make the Seattle Seahawks the first year he got a shot. He spent the next year in intense training. Go to Starbucks or McDonalds and he'd only order orange juice. Go to sushi and he'd order 22 pieces of sashimi. It was protein and good food 24-7. He even turned down mom's leftovers at Thanksgiving. He trained with some NFL players and lived and breathed football.

While Brian is making up for ten years of his lost life it is a tough test to make the team. Here's his entire tweet: "Never thought this day would come. And if it all ended here tonight... Mom, I did it."

No worries. #53 has earned respect on and off the field. He's committed to being a bright light. His promise, his star will shine whether he's in the NFL or not. His passion is to help others wrongly imprisoned.

Brian is no stranger to sporting words and numbers across his chest. When I first met him he wore XONR8 splashed across a navy sweatshirt. He wore that sweatshirt for a whole year. He wore it around town, in television interviews, on an airplane to DC. He was a walking billboard for The California Innocence Project. He wore XONR8 with pride and in advertisement of his status: exonerated.

While that navy XONR8 sweatshirt is by no means retired, tonight it was game on for #53.

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