Demarcus Reid was 17 years old when he was booked into the Mecklenburg County jail in June 2010.
He was just released at last month, not guilty of all charges. He is now 20.
"They say innocent until proven guilty, but when you're in there it feels like you're guilty until proven innocent," Reid said.
In June 2010, a teenage girl accused Reid, his brother Santario Washington and friend Dominique Brown of raping her in north Charlotte.
The boys said the sex was consensual, but they were all charged with rape and kidnapping.
At the time of the arrests, Reid was about to enter his senior year of high school.
"I was playing football and running track and I had scholarship offers to a few schools and everything was going good for me and then when I got locked up, everything just went down the drain," he said.
Things got more frustrating for Reid after their cases were delayed by a backlog in the courts.
While waiting, Brown spent three months in jail before posting bond.
Washington made bail after more than a year and a half.
Reid was never able to post bail, and spent the last two-and-a-half years behind bars until a jury acquitted him. As a result of the verdict, the district attorney dismissed the charges against Brown and Washington.
"When you behind there so long, you just cherish certain things like just being able to go outside and walk. Little things such as just being able to pick up grass," Reid said.
Defense Attorney Dean Loven represented Washington.
"The taxpayers are paying for these individuals to sit in jail," he said.
Loven said the backlogs cost taxpayers, victims and suspects.
"They are sitting here waiting for their day in court. The victims are waiting for their day in court," Loven said.
Reid knows he can't get his time back and said he's just focusing on what's ahead.
"Not only did I get enrolled in school, I got a job, I got new nephew," Reid said. "Life is going on."
There was a fourth boy accused in this case, but because he was a minor at the time, Eyewitness News was not able to get any information about his case.
The Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office told Channel 9 it stands by the young woman involved in the case and is very disappointed with the acquittal.