The Differences Between the All-American TV Series and the True Story It’s Based On

Now in its fourth season, All American continues to be one of the most popular shows on The CW. The series centers around a high school football star named Spencer James (Daniel Ezra). Although he is from Crenshaw, he is recruited to play football at Beverly Hills High School which turns out to be a bigger undertaking than he ever could’ve imagined. Although the show is fictional, it was actually inspired by the real-life events of former professional football player Spencer Paysinger. However, like most stories based on true events, there are quite a few details that have been changed for the sake of entertainment. Keep reading to learn about the differences between the TV show All American and the true story that inspired it.

1. Spencer Paysinger Never Went To Crenshaw High

In All American, one of the biggest elements of Spencer’s storyline is his relationship with Crenshaw High School. He attended the school and then returned after spending a year at Beverly Hills High. In real life, however, this never actually happened. Though it’s true that Spencer Paysinger is from south-central Los Angeles, he never went to Crenshaw High School. Instead, he attended Beverly for all four years.

2. Spencer Paysinger Didn’t Have To Live With Another Family To Go Beverly Hills High

In the show, Spencer is recruited to attend Beverly Hills High School. However, since he doesn’t live in the area, he has to go live with his coach in order to attend. Spencer Paysinger’s experience was actually quite different. Spencer wasn’t recruited to play high school football. He was able to go to Beverly through a program that allowed kids from other areas to go to the school. Spencer’s father and other members of his family had also attended the school in the past.

3. Spencer Paysinger Never Got Shot

If you’ve seen All American then you know that Spencer James has had to endure more than most teenagers could possibly imagine. While Spencer Paysinger’s experience may not have been smooth sailing, he didn’t have nearly as many hectic things happen as what we see in the show. A major thing that never happened was Spencer getting shot by gang members. Not only was Spencer not shot in that way, but he’d never been shot at all.

4. Spencer Paysinger Has A Great Relationship With His Dad

For a good portion of All American, Spencer James’ father is completely absent. This has a lasting impact on him as both a football player and a person. When the two finally get a chance to reconnect, his father passes away shortly after. This is another detail that wasn’t true in Spencer Paysinger’s life. He’s always had a close relationship with his father. In fact, his dad was one of his high school football coaches. As far as we can tell, Spencer Paysinger’s father is still alive. The lack of a relationship with his father was likely added to the show to bring in some additional drama.

5. Spencer James Was A More Sought After Recruit Than Paysinger

In All-American, Spencer James is depicted as one of the top high school football players in the country. Although his injury causes some people to doubt him, it is still understood that he is a top recruit. In real life, though, Spencer Paysinger was just a two-star recruit. In real life, Spencer played football at the University of Oregon while Spencer James decided to go to Toledo State.

6. Spencer Paysinger Wasn’t A State Champ In High School

Winning a state championship is one of the greatest things a high school athlete can accomplish. Unfortunately for Spencer Paysinger, this isn’t something he ever got the chance to experience. Unlike Spencer James, Spencer Paysinger never actually won a high school football championship.

7. Spencer Paysinger Wasn’t Really An All American

When a high school athlete receives all-American honors, it shows that they are one of the best in the country. In the series, it is mentioned that Spencer James was named an all-American during his senior year of high school. Oddly enough, though, Spencer Paysinger never became an all-American. Within the context of the show, it wouldn’t have made sense to not make Spencer James an all-American.

8. Spencer Paysinger Has Two Brothers

In the series, Spencer James has one younger brother and the two have a very close relationship. The real Spencer, however, has two brothers. It’s unclear what kind of relationship he has with them, but based on his Instagram profile it appears that Paysinger is a family-oriented person overall.


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