Born: September 20, 1986
Onslow County, North Carolina, USA
Born: July 24, 1985
Birthplace: Los Angeles County, California, USA
Born: June 17, 1963
Logansport, Indiana, USA
Born: June 17, 1965
Founder of the California Innocence Project
Born: April 22, 1967
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Mother of Brian Banks
Born: December 11, 1984
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born: abt 1987
Accuser, Renamed Kennisha Rice in the Movie
Born: August 20, 1960
Mother of Wanetta Gibson
Born: March 22, 1981
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Born: April 19, 1982
Birthplace: Reno, Nevada, USA
California Innocence Project Attorney
Yes. The Brian Banks true story reveals that he was 11th in the nation as a linebacker when he played for Long Beach Poly High School. He played alongside future NFL stars DeSean Jackson, Darnell Bing, Winston Justice and Marcedes Lewis. Banks was recruited by almost every Division I college in the nation and had given a verbal commitment to USC, where he was set to play on a full scholarship.
In June 2002, Wanetta Gibson, 15, accused junior Brian Banks, 16, then a standout football player at Long Beach Poly High, of dragging her into a stairwell and raping her. The alleged incident happened just before lunchtime at their school. Banks denied any wrongdoing. "We met, hugged, started talking and agreed to go to an area on our campus that was known as a make-out area," he said. "We kissed, we touched, we made out, but we didn't have sex." A teacher interrupted the pair as they were kissing and making out heavily, and they parted in different directions.
"We don't really know what the truth really is as to why she lied," he said. "I never really got a clear reason." Banks thinks that maybe she was worried that her older sister, who went to the same high school, would find out she made out with him and tell their mother. He has also wondered if she was worried he was going to brag to his friends. Or perhaps a school security guard saw her leaving the stairwell where she was making out with him, and the guard inquired as to what she was doing and whether she was a willing participant. Depending on her answer, maybe the guard told her she'd been raped.
In truth, she could have made the accusation for any number of reasons. Banks doesn't believe that she thought his punishment would be as severe, probably thinking he'd just be suspended. "I was being arrested and accused of kidnapping and rape," Banks recalled. "I was taken into custody that same day and the judge put a bail on me that was too high for me to post bond. It was over $1 million." Banks spent a year in juvy before it came time for his case to be heard. -Daily News
No. Brian Banks DNA was not found on accuser Wanetta Gibson or her clothing, nor was there any other evidence found to support Gibson's claims. The he-said, she-said evidence was flimsy at best and hardly reliable.
Yes. According to Brian, this is true. "My mom actually paid for this lawyer by selling her house and selling her car," he says. "Literally giving up everything to pay for this lawyer. And from day one, our lawyer just wanted me to plea out to some form of a deal." -California Innocence Project
In researching the Brian Banks true story, we learned that this is what both Banks and his lawyers believe. Attorney Alissa Bjerkhoel with the California Innocence Project believes that Wanetta's mother, who has a rap sheet herself, was behind the entire thing. "She was put up to this by her mother; [Wanetta] was only a teenager at the time."
Yes. Morgan Freeman's character is based on a teacher Brian encountered at Juvenile Hall by the name of Jerome Johnson, who became a mentor to Brian. In the film, he tells Brian (Aldis Hodge), "your despair can become a doorway" and that "all you can control in life is how you respond to life." This is in line with what he told Brian in real life.
"He opened my eyes," Brian said. "He challenged my mind in a way that had never been challenged before. I had a good upbringing. But these were things that were foreign to me. All it took was that person to introduce me to thinking who 'the real you' is." -Yahoo Sport
Freeman's role in the film is uncredited; a likely result of the sexual harassment claims made against the actor prior to the movie's release.
Convicted of rape in 2002, Banks spent five years and two months in prison, in addition to five years of high-custody parole, during which time he was required to wear a GPS tracking device on his ankle. He also had to register as a sex offender, which significantly hurt his chances of finding a job.
Yes. In real life, the woman who accused Banks of raping her, Wanetta Gibson, attempted to reach out to him in 2011 by sending him a friend request on Facebook. He didn't accept her request. Instead, he replied with a direct message, "Why would you friend request me?" he asked. Gibson said she wanted to let "bygones be bygones," writing that she was immature back then. She suggested they hang out. "I'd love to see you," she said. "I've seen your picture on Facebook. You look real good. I would love to hook up." Not only did Banks' parole agreement forbid him from having contact with her, she was the last person he'd want to see. -Daily News
Yes. According to the true story, he hired a friend's father who was a private investigator, hoping he could get a confession recorded. Brian set up a lunch-hour meeting with Wanetta at the investigator's office, lying to her and telling her it was where he worked. The investigator monitored the conversation from another room via a hidden camera and microphone. Brian explained to Wanetta the grave effect her accusation had on his life. She agreed to come back another day to talk to the investigator.
When the investigator asked Wanetta if Brian had raped her, she responded, "Of course not. If he raped me, I wouldn't be here right now. We were just young and having a good time, being curious, then all these other people got involved and blew it out of proportion." Brian took the recording to the California Innocence Project, who agreed to take his case and appeal it. The Innocence Project presented Brian Banks' case to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, who thoroughly reviewed it and agreed that he had been wrongfully convicted. In 2012, Judge Mark C. Kim, the same Los Angeles Superior Court judge who had sentenced him to six years in prison, took less than a minute to dismiss his conviction and clear his name. The judge offered Brian no apology for a justice system that had failed him. -California Innocence Project
Yes. Upon his exoneration, California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks requested before the press that NFL teams give Banks a chance again. Coach Pete Carroll, who Banks was supposed to play for at USC after high school, had become the coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. Carroll phoned Banks and invited him to Seattle for a tryout the day after all the charges against him were dropped. However, Banks had been away from the game for 10 years. Too much time had passed. He tried out and got invited back to camp, but they didn't sign him. He subsequently tried out with the Vikings, Eagles, Chiefs, Falcons, Chargers and 49ers. No one put him on their roster.
Coach Carroll noted that it was evident he had missed the physical development a player gets as a college athlete. "He missed the opportunity to hone his physical and mental skills as it relates to football, but his competitiveness shined through and he battled so hard for that chance, and did a phenomenal job with his opportunity," said Carroll.
Banks played linebacker and special teams for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League until the league folded in 2012 after Banks had played just two regular season games. The Falcons asked him to tryout again in 2013, and he played in all four preseason games, fulfilling his dream of playing in the NFL. He was let go when the roster was finalized. At just 28 years old, his hope of becoming an NFL star was over. -Daily News
"I will not be pursuing the NFL as an athlete this coming season," he said in a March 11, 2014 Facebook post. "Although it is my dream, it is not my life. I set out to accomplish one thing: become an NFL athlete. And I did that. I never put a stipulation on how much I would play, how long I would play.. I just wanted to play. And I did!"
Yes. After Wanetta Gibson confessed to making up the accusations, the Long Beach Unified School District eventually sued to get their money back from Gibson's lawsuit, including lawyer's fees and punitive damages. They sued Gibson for $2.6 million and won the judgment. However, it's not money that they will likely ever see. Gibson went into hiding and never showed at any of her court dates. It is believed that not only did Gibson and her mother, Wanda Rhodes, spend all of the money, their cars have been repossessed and they have had to sell most of the items they bought.
"The statute of limitations was expired for perjury," Banks told theGrio. "I would have absolutely pressed charges against her if I could. Part of my life was taken away because of her. But more importantly, you have to go after people like this because a person such as herself makes it harder for a woman who is raped to come forward confidently and share their story and hope something is done about what happened to them. They should be able to expect to be believed."
Learn more about the Brian Banks true story by watching the interview with him below. Then view the confession of his accuser, Wanetta Gibson.