Occasionally, we come across stories that defy credulity to the point where we can't quite believe what we're seeing. And when these stories involve good people getting railroaded and losing huge parts of their lives for no good reason ... well, it's hard to know what to think.
That's our reaction to Brian Banks' story, and we aren't even living it. One struggles to imagine what he's been through. Banks is a former star high-school football recruit who lost any shot at his dream of college football -- and just about anything else -- as a result of a casual "make-out" session with 15-year-old Wanetta Gibson. The two Polytechnic High students from Long Beach did not have sex, but Gibson accused Banks of rape nonetheless. Despite a lack of DNA evidence, Banks' lawyer -- who won't be winning any Perry Mason awards any time soon -- advised his client to take a plea against his own innocence.
According to the Sporting News, the attorney was hardly an advocate. "She told me I was a big black teenager," Banks said, "and no jury would believe anything I said."
Eventually, Banks served five years and two months in prison and spent another five years on probation. When he was released from prison, he had to register as a sex offender and wear an ankle bracelet. Any shot he had of making a go of football was gone -- now, it was just about survival under unimaginable circumstances. How do you live life as the worst sort of person when you're not? And how do you get past losing that much of your life for something you didn't do?