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Only On CBS2: Exonerated Football Player Trains For First Pro Game

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LAS VEGAS (CBSLA.com) — A high school football star exonerated of a rape conviction after serving five years in prison never gave up on his dream to play on a professional team.

After his exoneration, 26-year-old Brian Banks was given the opportunity to try out for several NFL teams, including the Seattle Seahawks. With no offers on the table, he decided to sign with the Las Vegas Locomotives, a United Football League team that have all the heart and a fraction of the income of their NFL counterparts.

“Whether I’m playing alongside them, behind them, coming in off the sideline, I’m ecstatic. And I’m humbled by the whole experience,” said Banks, who will take the field next Wednesday night.

The linebacker is starting a new life, all made possible four months ago with the help of the California Innocence Project. On May 24, Banks was exonerated in a Downtown L.A. courtroom after spending five years in prison and four more as a registered sex offender – all for a rape his accuser later admitted never happened.

Through the ordeal Banks said his dream of playing football never faltered.

Next Wednesday, he will get to live the dream when he steps out onto a field as a professional football player; the Las Vegas Locomotives are set to host the Virginia Destroyers in the opening game of the United Football League season.

Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel is head coach for the Locomotives.

CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Randy Paige asked Fassel what he thought of Bryan’s performance during training Thursday.

“I saw an athlete out there. And I’ll tell you what, he made a couple of calls to adjust the defense and I’m going, ‘This is the first day out here. Man, he’s just learning this stuff.’ And I was impressed with that,” Fassel said.

“I’m just thankful for everything that’s taken place,” Banks said.

“What have you learned about yourself?” Paige said.

“That I’m never gonna quit. That my persistence is unyielding. That no matter what I go through in life, I accept the path that God put before me. And, you know, instead of fighting it I look for understanding,” Banks said.

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