The protagonist of the CW’s All-American, Spencer James. He is a talented football player from a low-income area. Who gets recruited by a new squad with the resources to turn him into a star? Spencer James’s story may have seemed tailor-made for the big screen. But the events shown in All American are based on his true life—including some alarming details about which you should be aware.
Billy Baker, the Beverly High School football coach, recruits Spencer (Daniel Ezra). He wants Spencer (Daniel Ezra) to join his Beverly High football team.
Spencer quits his South Crenshaw High team and relocates to live with the coach. His family is eligible to play. While experiencing cultural shock at his new school. Where most of his peers are white and privileged, he becomes a standout athlete.
The show is based on NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger’s childhood in South Central Los Angeles. Yet, they attended school and played football in Beverly Hills as part of their multicultural program. Paysinger created all American, and The CW picked it up. However, the network takes some creative liberties with the premise.
Paysinger, unlike TV Spencer, did not attend both. His high schools are in South Central Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. He attended Beverly Hills High School his whole high school career and graduated in 2006. Spencer returned to South Crenshaw High after temporarily playing for BHHS. Spencer’s father is another notable distinction between the show and actual life.
Spencer’s father is killed off in the episode, but Paysinger’s father, Donald Paysinger, is still alive and well and has supported Paysinger throughout his football career. Finally, whereas Spencer James’ football position is wide receiver, Paysinger’s real-life football position is linebacker.
Paysinger overcame several obstacles on his path to success, which is depicted in All American. Through the power of football, Paysinger has created a show that conveys an important story in the hopes that it would draw attention to the often-overlooked charm of his community. “I didn’t want to disrespect [South Crenshaw] by saying Spencer went to Beverly and everything was fine,” Paysinger said in 2018 to the Los Angeles Times.
“Beverly introduced me to a whole new set of privileged kid issues.” He also stated to ESPN, “‘On these different sides of the track, we’re a lot more similar than you guys realize,’ I wanted to tell the tale. Being from South Central and knowing how Hollywood portrays the area as lonely, with gang violence, drugs, and everything, they must recognize that the sun shines as brightly there as it does in Beverly Hills. I want visitors to notice that South Central is also a lovely neighborhood. It’s a fantastic location. It’s still a location I consider home. That, I believe, we have accomplished.”
In real life, Paysinger attended the University of Oregon and played football for the Ducks before joining the NFL. He began his professional career with the New York Giants in 2011 before briefly playing for the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Carolina Panthers. Paysinger announced his retirement from football in 2017. He is now a consulting producer on All American and owns his own coffee business. He also established the Afterball LLC investment fund to assist NFL players in dealing with the abrupt end of their careers.