(FOX 2) - Flint native Mateen Cleaves cried tears of relief after learning he was acquitted on all four charges in his rape case.
He was facing 15 years in prison - but today he thanked jurors for giving him his life back. After nearly four years, the former MSU basketball star broke his silence on the steps of the Genesee County courthouse.
"The worst person you can be is a rapist and to be portrayed as a rapist, it broke my heart every day, rape is a bad thing," he said. "It hit me hard because I have people close to me that has been raped. But lying about rape is just as bad."
It all started in September of 2015. Prosecutors say Cleaves met the woman at a charity golf outing. After going to a bar, where they kissed, Cleaves took the 24-year-old back to a Mundy Township hotel room where she accused him of holding her prisoner and raping her.
Hotel surveillance video showed the woman trying to escape the room three times wearing only a bra yelling 'Help me' and Cleaves dragging her back inside.
But defense attorneys argued the sex was consensual and Cleaves was only trying to protect the woman who was drunk and needed to get back to the hotel room to get dressed.
"The absolute truth at some point in time we had 12 people look at all the evidence and you can't hide the truth," said attorney Frank Manley.
"This case is put to rest, this case is put to bed, this man deserves his life back," said attorney Mike Manley.
His former Coach Tom Izzo sat in court a few rows behind Cleaves when a Flint jury of nine women and three men read the four not guilty verdicts.
"He never left my side, he never left my side," he said. "It just shows the amount of support I have from people. They aren't going to support no rapist. They aren't supporting me because of who I am, they support me because of the person I am."
Cleaves also thanked his wife, who despite the accusations stood by his side from the start.
"I want to publicly apologize to her because she didn't deserve this," he said. "I am sorry to her and our kids but I am happy the truth has finally come out."
It took jurors less than three hours to come to the verdict.