Then a USC commit, the 16-year-old Banks was sentenced to jail for six years for the rape. After serving nearly the full sentence, with five years on parole, Banks left prison in 2008. The conviction was overturned in 2012.
A feature film detailing the story screened in New York City this past Thursday evening for an early release, where Banks made a surprise appearance to greet those in attendance, who were mostly young black children accompanied by family members.
Banks took questions for about 30 minutes following the screening.
“It’s necessarily what we go through, but how we allow it to affect us and what we choose to do moving forward,” Banks said. “I always say don’t judge me for what I’ve been through, judge me by how I’ve dealt with it, because there lies true character.
“There really is no method to get through such a traumatic experience,” he continued. “It’s a day by day thing. You choose to not allow a situation dictate the duration of your life.”
Banks said it was important to refrain from misplacing his anger following his release from prison.
“We go through things and we choose the way we feel about those things,” he said. “If you’re mad, it’s a choice. If you’re happy, it’s a choice.”
Banks played in the NFL briefly, making the Atlanta Falcons training camp roster in 2013. He now shares his story nationwide and tries to help exonerate other wrongfully imprisoned inmates.
The movie Brian Banks,/i>, co-produced by Banks and starring Aldis Hodge as Banks, is in theaters nationwide right now.