What Set Me Free By Brian Banks – Book Review

In his powerful memoir, “What Set Me Free,” Brian Banks opens up about his harrowing experience with the criminal justice system and the long fight for his freedom. From promising athlete to wrongfully convicted prisoner, Banks’ story is one of resilience, perseverance, and the enduring power of hope. In this book review, we will take a closer look at the key themes and impact of this captivating narrative.

What Set Me Free By Brian Banks - Book Review

The Inspiring Story of Brian Banks

Brian Banks‘ journey began as a standout football player with a bright future ahead of him. At just 17 years old, he had secured a full athletic scholarship to USC and was well on his way to achieving his dreams. However, everything changed when he was accused of a crime he did not commit and wrongfully convicted.

A Promising Football Career Derailed

The first section of the book showcases Brian’s talent on the football field and offers a glimpse into what could have been. Brian was a natural athlete, with a combination of speed, agility, and strength that made him a force to be reckoned with on the field. His coaches and teammates recognized his potential early on and encouraged him to pursue a career in football.

Brian’s dedication to the sport was unmatched. He spent countless hours practicing his moves, studying game footage, and working on his physical conditioning. He was determined to be the best and to make a name for himself in the world of football.

Despite his young age, Brian had already made a name for himself as a star player in high school. He had caught the attention of college scouts and was offered a full scholarship to USC, one of the most prestigious football programs in the country.

The Wrongful Conviction

However, Brian’s dreams were shattered when he was accused of rape by his classmate, Wanetta Gibson. The accusation came as a shock to Brian, who had never even met Gibson before. He was arrested and questioned by police, who pressured him into signing a false confession.

Despite the lack of evidence and inconsistencies in Gibson’s testimony, Brian was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years of probation. He was devastated by the verdict, which he knew was based on lies and false accusations.

The Fight for Freedom and Redemption

Brian’s story is a testament to the human spirit and the power of perseverance. He refused to give up on his fight for justice and, with the help of the California Innocence Project, was finally exonerated in 2012.

After his release from prison, Brian was determined to rebuild his life and to make a positive impact on the world. He became an advocate for criminal justice reform, speaking out about the flaws in the system that had led to his wrongful conviction.

He also returned to football, playing for several teams in the NFL and the United Football League. Although his career was not as successful as it could have been if he had not been wrongfully convicted, he was grateful for the opportunity to play the sport he loved.

Today, Brian continues to inspire others with his story of resilience and redemption. He is a sought-after motivational speaker and has written a memoir about his experiences. His message is one of hope and perseverance, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, we can find the strength to overcome adversity.

Key Themes in “What Set Me Free”

Resilience and Perseverance

What Set Me Free (The Story That Inspired the Major Motion Picture Brian Banks): A True Story of Wrongful Conviction, a Dream Deferred, and a Man Redeemed

Throughout the book, Brian demonstrates incredible strength and resilience in the face of adversity. He faced numerous challenges and obstacles, from being wrongfully accused and imprisoned to dealing with the emotional toll of his situation. Despite all of this, he remained hopeful and maintained his belief in a better future. Brian’s unyielding determination to clear his name is an inspiration to us all, showing us that no matter how difficult the situation, we can find the strength to persevere.

One example of Brian’s resilience is when he was first arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit. Despite feeling overwhelmed and scared, he refused to give up or lose hope. Instead, he focused on gathering evidence to prove his innocence and maintaining a positive attitude. This attitude helped him to stay strong throughout his ordeal and ultimately led to his exoneration.

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The Power of Forgiveness

One of the most moving aspects of the book is Brian’s unwavering commitment to forgiveness. Despite what he went through, he refuses to hold on to bitterness and anger towards those who wronged him. Instead, he chooses to focus on healing and moving forward with his life. Brian’s forgiveness is a powerful reminder of the importance of letting go of grudges and focusing on positivity and growth.

One example of Brian’s forgiveness is when he was finally released from prison. Instead of seeking revenge or lashing out at those who had wronged him, he chose to focus on rebuilding his life and moving forward. This attitude allowed him to find peace and happiness, even after everything he had been through.

The Importance of Support Systems

Brian’s journey towards exoneration would not have been possible without the unwavering support of his family, friends, and legal team. Their support and encouragement helped him to stay positive and steadfast in his pursuit of justice. This support system was crucial in helping Brian to maintain his resilience and persevere through the challenges he faced.

One example of the importance of support systems is when Brian’s family and friends rallied around him after he was first arrested. They visited him in prison, wrote him letters, and provided emotional support during a difficult time. This support helped Brian to stay strong and maintain his hope for the future.

Overall, “What Set Me Free” is a powerful testament to the human spirit and the ability to overcome even the most difficult circumstances. Through Brian’s story, we are reminded of the importance of resilience, forgiveness, and support systems in our own lives.

Brian Banks’ Impact on the Criminal Justice System

Brian Banks was a promising high school football star with dreams of playing in the NFL. However, those dreams were shattered when he was wrongfully convicted of rape and sentenced to five years in prison. After serving his time, Brian was exonerated with the help of the California Innocence Project.

The California Innocence Project

The California Innocence Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals who have been wrongfully convicted. They use DNA testing and other investigative techniques to prove the innocence of those who have been wrongly accused. Brian’s case brought national attention to the work of the organization, and many people began to realize just how common wrongful convictions can be.

Thanks to the work of the California Innocence Project, Brian was able to clear his name and move on with his life. However, he didn’t stop there. He knew that there were many others who were still behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit, and he wanted to do something about it.

Advocacy for Wrongfully Convicted Individuals

Brian’s experience has made him a vocal advocate for those who have been wrongly convicted. He uses his platform to raise awareness and advocate for reform in the justice system, highlighting the need for greater accountability and oversight.

He has testified before Congress and spoken at numerous events, sharing his story and calling for change. He believes that no one should have to go through what he went through, and he is committed to doing everything he can to make sure that others don’t have to.

Raising Awareness on the Flaws of the System

In addition to advocating for individual cases, Brian is also focused on raising awareness about the flaws in the criminal justice system as a whole. He believes that there are systemic issues that need to be addressed in order to prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place.

He has written a book about his experience, which not only tells his personal story but also sheds light on the broader issues at play. The final section of the book is a call to action for all those who care about justice and fairness. Brian urges readers to get involved and to fight for systemic change. He believes that his story can offer hope and inspiration to those who are going through similar struggles, showing them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In conclusion, Brian Banks’ impact on the criminal justice system has been significant. His case brought attention to the issue of wrongful convictions and helped to highlight the important work being done by organizations like the California Innocence Project. He has used his platform to advocate for reform and to raise awareness about the flaws in the system. And he continues to inspire others to get involved and fight for change.

The Writing Style and Structure of the Book

A Gripping and Emotional Narrative

Brian’s writing style is deeply personal and emotive. He invites readers into his world and shares his thoughts and emotions with a raw and honest intensity. The result is a gripping and emotional narrative that keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end.

As you read Brian’s story, you can’t help but feel a deep sense of empathy for him. His struggles and triumphs are so vividly described that you feel like you are right there with him, experiencing everything he is going through. The emotional depth of the writing is truly remarkable, and it is a testament to Brian’s skill as a writer.

The Use of Flashbacks and Personal Reflections

The book is structured in a nonlinear format, with frequent flashbacks and personal reflections. While this can be disorienting at times, it adds depth and complexity to the storytelling. It also allows the reader to gain a better understanding of Brian’s psychology and motivations.

The flashbacks are particularly effective in helping the reader understand how Brian’s past experiences have shaped him into the person he is today. They provide important context for his actions and decisions, and they help to flesh out his character in a way that would not be possible in a linear narrative.

The Balance Between Personal and Legal Aspects

Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is its ability to balance the personal and legal aspects of Brian’s story. While the focus is on his personal journey and experiences, he also provides important insights into the workings of the criminal justice system. This makes the book both a compelling memoir and an informative exposé.

Brian’s firsthand experience with the criminal justice system gives him a unique perspective on its strengths and weaknesses. He is able to provide a nuanced and insightful analysis of the system, without losing sight of the personal toll it takes on those who are caught up in it. This balance between the personal and legal aspects of the story is what sets Brian’s book apart from other memoirs and makes it such a powerful read.


What Set Me Free” is a must-read for anyone interested in the criminal justice system, the power of resilience, and overcoming adversity. Brian Banks’ story is a remarkable testament to the human spirit and the enduring power of hope. Through his book, he invites us to join him on his journey towards justice and redemption.

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Eddison Monroe