Is All American based on a true story? In a nutshell, yes.
The story of All American is partially based on the life of Spencer Paysinger, a real-life NFL linebacker who played high school football at Beverly Hills High as part of the school’s multicultural program.
Paysinger was a South Central LA native and high school dropout who was wooed by the Beverly Hills High program.
In 2017, The CW picked up All American after hearing Paysinger’s pitch. In 2018, the show debuted.
However, the network does alter the story in specific ways, taking some liberties with Paysinger’s life and experiences despite the fact that it is based on a real person and athlete.
The most glaring of these is, of course, the character of Paysinger, who is portrayed by Daniel Ezra as Spencer James on the show.
Most of the show’s significant revisions are made for dramatic and comedic effect; for example, Paysinger spent his entire high school career at Beverly Hills, rather than briefly returning to his old school as he did in All American; this was done to emphasize the chasm between the two worlds into which Spencer had been thrust.
It’s also not true that Spencer plays wide receiver; in reality, he was a linebacker for the duration of his football career.
In addition, Paysinger was never the target of a gang-related shooting like the one that occurred in Season 2 of the show, when Spencer was wounded in a surprise incident.
After he is taken to the hospital, the remaining gang members try to finish him off there.
However, the fate of Spencer Paysinger’s father is one of the most notable discrepancies between All American and Spencer’s actual life.
In All American, Spencer James’ (Chad L. Coleman) father, Corey, dies after a long battle with cancer. Corey was a high school football coach, and he and Spencer were looking forward to the day when Corey could coach his son.
In contrast, Paysinger’s father, Douglas, is still very much alive and a strong supporter of his son’s career.
Spencer James’s return to his old high school in Season 3 comes after he quit football following the trauma of his brother’s death.
In reality, Paysinger’s father held the positions of both assistant and head coach at Beverly Hills High.
For several years, Paysinger’s uncle led the Beverly Hills High football program as its head coach.
Spencer Paysinger, the show’s creator, talked to ESPN about the changes made to his life and why he didn’t want to tell a story where “Spencer went to Beverly, and everything was great,” saying, “We’re a lot more similar on these different sides of the track than you guys think.”
He also said that he didn’t want to portray his old high school, South Crenshaw, or neighborhood, South Central, in a negative light.
He noted that Hollywood portrayed South Central as “this dismal place with gang violence, drugs, everything,” and he criticized this representation.
Paysinger wanted to create a presentation that was not only about football and the joy he had from playing it but also about the two different cultures he grew up in and the hardships of living in a sort of limbo between them.
Some of the show’s incidents are exaggerated or entirely fabricated, but that’s on purpose to show how issues may arise for anyone, regardless of their upbringing or social status.
Spencer faces challenges related to his social status and those of his family and friends as he pursues his dream of becoming a professional football player in All American. The story is also replete with young love, terrible loss, and acts of violence.
It’s a remark on the difficulties people from all walks of life face on a daily basis, not just those in high school.
The protagonist of this coming-of-age tale finds himself in the midst of trials to which almost everybody may relate.
There is no ‘right side’ to be on in the show; the affluent area and school where Spencer ends up having to go have just as many issues as the poor area where he grew up.
When asked about the difficulties he faced in Beverly Hills, Paysinger told ESPN, “Beverly actually introduced me to a whole other set of problems — rich kid problems.”
All-American: Homecoming, starring Geffri Maya as Simone Hicks, is a spin-off of the main series.
There is no individual named Spencer in the show; rather, it follows a fictional student at a historically black institution in Atlanta who aspires to become a professional tennis player.
Paysinger’s high school football career was just the beginning of his athletic endeavors.
Spencer Paysinger went from high school football star to college star for the University of Oregon Ducks.
After beginning his career with the Miami Dolphins in 2011, he also spent time with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers.
Hilltop Coffee, his own LA coffee store, was founded in 2017 after he retired. In addition, he established Afterball LLC, an investment firm that assists former National Football League players whose careers were cut short.
Paysinger serves as a consultant and producer on All American, and he also has a small part as an assistant coach at Beverly Hills High.