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

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Brian Banks, the major motion picture starring Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, and Sherri Shepherd, winner of the audience award at the 2018 LA Film Festival, opens nationwide in 2019!

Discover the unforgettable and inspiring true story of Brian Banks—a young man who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager and imprisoned for more than five years, only to emerge with his spirit unbroken and determined to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.

At age sixteen, Brian Banks was a nationally recruited All-American Football player, ranked eleventh in the nation as a linebacker. Before his seventeenth birthday, he was in jail, awaiting trial for a heinous crime he did not commit.

Although Brian was innocent, his attorney advised him that as a young black man accused of rape, he stood no chance of winning his case at trial. Especially since he would be tried as an adult. Facing a possible sentence of forty-one years to life, Brian agreed to take a plea deal—and a judge sentenced him to six years in prison.

At first, Brian was filled with fear, rage, and anger as he reflected on the direction his life had turned and the unjust system that had imprisoned him. Brian was surrounded in darkness, until he had epiphany that would change his life forever. From that moment on, Brian made the choice to shed the bitterness and anger he felt, and focus only on the things he had the power to control. He approached his remaining years in prison with a newfound resolve, studying and applying spirituality, improving his social and writing skills, and taking giant leaps on his journey toward enlightenment.

When Brian emerged from prison with five years of parole still in front of him, he was determined to re-build his life and finally prove his innocence. Three months before his parole was set to expire, armed with a shocking recantation from his accuser and the help of the California Innocence Project, the truth about his unjust incarceration came out and he was exonerated. Finally free, Brian sought to recapture a dream once stripped away: to play for the NFL. And at age twenty-eight, he made that dream come true.

Perfect for fans of Just Mercy, I Beat the Odds, and Infinite Hope, this powerful memoir is a deep dive into the injustices of the American justice system, a soul-stirring celebration of the resilience of the human spirit, and an inspiring call to hold fast to our dreams.
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About the author

Brian Banks is one of the country’s most prominent exonerees. After serving more than five years in prison and nearly five years on probation for a crime he did not commit, Brian recaptured his childhood dream and signed with the Atlanta Falcons to play in the NFL in 2013. Soon after he was offered a job in the NFL’s front office by Roger Goodell. He has gone on to become a life coach and nationally recognized public speaker, and sits on the advisory boards of the California Innocence Project and the National Registry of Exonerations. A movie based on his life will be released in August 2019.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jul 2, 2019
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781982121327
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Political Science / Civil Rights
Sports & Recreation / Football
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The legendary NFL receiver, all-time receptions and yards leader for the Green Bay Packers, and Dancing with the Stars champion looks back on his life and career.

When he was picked in the seventh-round of 1999 NFL draft, Donald Driver couldn’t find Green Bay on a map. He was given little chance of making the Packers roster, much less of amassing over 10,000 yards in his career and becoming a Super Bowl champion. But in an unlikely journey, Driver has overcome obstacle after obstacle to become one of the most successful players in the NFL.
 
Now, for the first time, Driver recalls his time growing up in Houston, spending nights living in a U-Haul trailer with his mother and stealing cars and selling drugs with his brother to get by.  He recalls what it was like to walk into the locker room as a little-regarded prospect out of Alcorn State, an athlete who one year earlier thought his future was in high jump rather than football, and why he would have never made the team without the support of General Manager Ron Wolf.
 
With the help of his winning speed, skill, not to mention, smile, Driver became one of Brett Favre's most-trusted targets and a fan favorite at Lambeau. (Though it took some time for him to perfect his Lambeau leap.)  Driven takes you inside the locker room with Favre, shares his experiences with Reggie White, and recalls his more recent role as a veteran leader for like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings during their Super Bowl run in 2010. Over 14 years Driver has been through it all—game winning touchdowns, crushing playoff defeats, frightening injuries, and the glory of the Super Bowl.
 
Traveling off the field, Driver discuss his relationship with his wife and three children: how uncertain they were when he undertook  the relentless training necessary to become a champion on the 2012 season of Dancing With the Stars, and how supportive they are of his charity work and service to God.
 
Driver retired on his terms after 14 years in the NFL: as a Packer for life. Driven is the definitive story of Donald Driver’s extraordinary journey.
It took just 1.28 seconds to make history.

On August 30, 2003, Katie Hnida became the first woman ever to play and score in NCAA Division I football. The struggle to get to that groundbreaking moment took eight long years, a journey filled with dogged commitment, horrifying setbacks, and finally, remarkable triumph.

Fate came knocking for the 14-year-old Hnida in the unlikely form of a torn thigh muscle -- an injury that would drive her off the soccer field in search of another outlet for her athletic talent. She found football and with it gender-defying success. The same day Hnida's high school classmates voted her homecoming queen, she donned her helmet and pads and kicked six extra points in the homecoming game.

When she is recruited to play for the University of Colorado Buffaloes, her great dream is realized, and she seems set for glory on a much larger stage. But upon arriving in Boulder, she begins a tour of hell inside the University of Colorado's football program, a hell that culminates in Hnida being raped by a teammate. It is here that the story truly begins.

Katie is physically and emotionally devastated. She leaves the university and begins climbing her way back to who she was and what she wanted. She learns to speak about what happened to her and to push through harrowing flashbacks of violence. The very thing that drew her into the darkest days of her life will ultimately save her: football.

She sends 80 kicking tapes to 80 Division I schools and is invited to visit several top football programs. But it is the blue-collar, no-nonsense team that wins her trust: the University of New Mexico Lobos. Under head coach Rocky Long, Hnida continues her long road to recovery through hard work and the will to never give up. She is not only accepted by her teammates, she also finds herself part of a team that's a family.

In Albuquerque, Hnida is reunited with her dream. Under a true leader, she blossoms. Her teammates are teammates, supporting and encouraging her to reach her goal. And with just seven minutes and 20 seconds to go in a game against Southwest Texas, the history-making extra point kick is made in under two seconds, changing everyone's ideas about what is possible.
"Never die easy. Why run out of bounds and die easy? Make that linebacker pay. It carries into all facets of your life. It's okay to lose, to die, but don't die without trying, without giving it your best."

His legacy is towering. Walter Payton—the man they called Sweetness, for the way he ran—remains the most prolific running back in the history of the National Football League, the star of the Chicago Bears' only Super Bowl Championship, eleven times voted the most popular sports figure in Chicago's history. Off the field, he was a devoted father whose charitable foundation benefited tens of thousands of children each year, and who—faced with terminal liver disease—refused to use his celebrity to gain a preferential position for organ donation. Walter Payton was not just a football hero; he was America's hero.
        Never Die Easy is Walter Payton's autobiography, told from the heart. Growing up poor in Mississippi, he took up football to get girls' attention, and went on to become a Black College All-American at tiny Jackson State (during which time he was also a finalist in a Soul Train dance contest). Drafted by the Bears in 1975, he predicted that he would last only five years but went on to play thirteen extraordinary seasons, a career earning him regular acknowledgment as one of the greatest players in the history of professional football. And when his playing days were over, he approached business and charity endeavors with the same determination and success he had brought to the football field, always putting first his devotion to friends and family. His ultimate battle with illness truly proved him the champion he always had been and prompted a staggering outpouring of love and support from hundreds of thousands of friends and admirers.
        Written with veteran journalist and author Don Yaeger in the last weeks of Walter Payton's life, Never Die Easy presents Walter's singular voice—warm, plainspoken, funny, self-aware—along with the voices of the friends, family, teammates, and business associates who knew him best at all stages of his life, including his wife, Connie, and their children, Brittney and Jarrett; his teammate and friend Matt Suhey; former Bears head coach Mike Ditka; and many, many others.
        Walter made Don Yaeger promise that his book would be "inspirational and leave people with some kind of lesson . . . and make sure you spell all the words right." Never Die Easy keeps all those promises.
In his no-holds-barred memoir, Sapp Attack!, Warren Sapp, one of the NFL's most hilarious and candid personalities, reveals a side of football most fans have never before seen.

Big Man. Big Talent. Big Star. Big Mouth. Big Heart. Big Personality. Big Smile. Big Headlines. Warren Sapp, one of pro football's most dominating defensive players both on and off the field, has a reputation for being bold, brash, knowledgeable, and outspoken. During his All-American career at the University of Miami, 13 seasons as an NFL star, four years on the NFL Network and one very big season on Dancing with the Stars, Sapp has never held back. Now he brings that same fearless attitude to his memoir, a book that will create controversy and headlines; in other words, pure Warren Sapp.

Sapp has won every award possible for a defensive player, but it wasn't just his extraordinarily athletic ability that made him a star; it was also his ability to understand the subtleties of the game. He writes about working his way up from the high school gridiron to one of the top college football programs in the country, to the NFL, and reveals how the system actually works—the behind-the-scenes plays that fans rarely get to see. He'll discuss what it was like to face some of the greatest players in NFL history, including Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice, both of whom he put out of the game, and Bret Favre, whom he sacked eleven times during his career. In this revealing, hilarious, and must-read book, Sapp offers readers a look inside the life of one of football's biggest stars and shares his often controversial opinions about the state of pro football today and its future.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • The Christian Science Monitor • Southern Living

Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women’s rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II; the anti-Communist witch-hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. Each of these dramatic hours in our national life have been shaped by the contest to lead the country to look forward rather than back, to assert hope over fear—a struggle that continues even now.

While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.

Praise for The Soul of America

“Brilliant, fascinating, timely . . . With compelling narratives of past eras of strife and disenchantment, Meacham offers wisdom for our own time.”—Walter Isaacson

“Gripping and inspiring, The Soul of America is Jon Meacham’s declaration of his faith in America.”—Newsday

“Meacham gives readers a long-term perspective on American history and a reason to believe the soul of America is ultimately one of kindness and caring, not rancor and paranoia.”—USA Today
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