In 2003, All-American high school athlete Brian Banks was on his way to the University of Southern California on a full football scholarship. But all that changed when his classmate Wanetta Gibson accused him of rape.
Banks, who was 16 at the time, followed his attorney’s ill-advised counsel and pleaded “no contest” to forcible rape, and ended up serving six years in jail for the alleged crime. During Banks’ imprisonment, Gibson successfully sued the Long Beach, Calif., school district for $1.5 million for not providing adequate security, which she stated could have prevented her rape.
After Banks was released, Gibson added Banks as a friend on Facebook, and eventually confessed to him that she had lied about being raped. Gibson offered to clear Banks’ name, but didn’t want to have to confess to the police in fear of having to return the settlement money. Gibson later recanted her rape accusations and Banks was exonerated. Gibson was also ordered to pay the school district more than $2 million, which included the original settlement and attorney fees.
After Banks’ conviction was overturned, he was able to live out his dreams of playing professional football. He played in the UFL and in four pre-season Atlanta Falcon games in 2013.
Now Banks’ life story is heading to the big screen.
According to Deadline, Lee Daniels has signed on to direct The Brian Banks Story.
“Lee is a filmmaker who looks at challenging circumstances with honesty, compassion and hope,” said Amy Baer, the film’s producer. “He has an emotional connection to Brian’s story that I’m certain will result in a powerful and redemptive film.”
Banks, who’s currently working with California’s Innocence Project, is excited about having his story told.
“All I ever wanted was to prove my innocence. Telling my story in the form of a feature film is beyond my wildest dreams. Having Lee Daniels come on board to direct the film is so exciting and such an honor,” Banks stated.
The Brian Banks Story is still in pre-production and a release date has not been set.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.