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Press Box: Former prep football star exonerated of rape conviction after 9 years

The SportsXchange

Brian Banks, a promising high school football star who had a scholarship offer from Southern California before being convicted of rape and kidnapping nine years ago, walked out of a Long Beach, Calif., court a free man on Thursday after the victim recanted her story, multiple media outlets reported.

.Banks, a star at Long Beach Poly, was convicted in 2003 regarding the incident that occurred in 2002, at the age of 16. Banks claimed it was consensual sex.

Banks, 26, served 5 years and 2 months in prison after he, on the advice of his lawyer, pleaded no contest to forcible rape. He was registered as a sex offender.

However, accuser Wanetta Gibson recanted her story a little more than a year ago. With the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks was able to get his conviction reversed.

Gibson had sued the Long Beach Unified School District after the conviction and received $1.5 million in a settlement after claiming the school district did not provide a safe environment.

The school district would not comment to the Long Beach Press-Telegram on the case, and Banks did not say whether he would proceed with a civil case against Gibson.

Marcus Hobbs, who claims to be Banks' trainer, told LA Weekly that Banks is ready to try to play in NFL right now, although it remains to be seen whether Banks will try out for an NFL roster.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

--- University of Pittsburgh reserve fullback Derrick Burns suffered a career-ending stroke, his father told a local television station.

Dan Burns told KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, "Found a mass, a blood clot in the back of his head, and a small one on the left side which caused a stroke and left his right side weak."

Derrick Burns, 20, played in one game during his collegiate career. The redshirt sophomore was expected to battle for the starting fullback job this fall.

WAGERING

---Despite possible challenges from the federal government, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he will go forward with plans to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks by November.

Christie, 49, a Republican, said he plans to propose regulations next week to authorize sport-book betting at Atlantic City and at horse race tracks.

In 1992, the federal government banned the expansion of sports wagering and restricted it to Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.
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