Billy Baker’s death in season 5 shocked fans of All American. Few would have predicted that Baker would die so suddenly. Taye Diggs, who plays Baker, told TVLine that he initiated the idea of Baker’s death after feeling ready to leave the series.
“It was just a feeling that I got [that I was ready to leave] and I just honored that feeling,” Diggs said. “It was maybe mid-fourth season. She [showrunner Nkechi Carroll] had known, and we’d been talking. And we decided how to go about it, and storylines and whatnot, so it was all above board.”
Billy Baker was based on Spencer Paysinger’s uncle, Carter Paysinger, who’s still alive
All American is based on the real life of Spencer Paysinger. The character Billy Barker loosely mirrored Spencer’s uncle, Carter, who is still alive. In 2019, Spencer told TV Guide that Carter was his football coach at Beverly Hills High. Spencer described his relationship with Carter:
“At that age, he was essentially a father figure to me. We still have a very close relationship to this day. Being at Beverly and having someone have my back kept me on my toes and taught me not to get comfortable in this environment. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.”
In his 2014 memoir Where a Man Stands, Carter described his enrollment in Beverly Hills High School as ‘the most important day of my life’. He writes:
“Where I lived, in South Central Los Angeles, we had low-slung houses and chain-link fences and lots of giant billboards. But as we drove down Santa Monica, those gave way to spacious homes, majestic lawns and men with rakes and hoses fussing over sidewalks.”
After graduation, Carter earned a BS in Social Sciences from California State University. He returned to Beverly Hills High School in 1979 as a football and baseball coach. Carter gradually rose the ranks to Principal of the institution.
Carter’s bio on his website states that he also worked in the real estate business for 30 years and had a short and successful stint in the insurance industry. The bio continues:
“Carter is currently the President of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section. The CIF is the governing body that oversees all of athletics in the State of California.”
In 2014, Carter sued the school district he’d served for decades for workplace retaliation, earning a $685,000 settlement. Small wonder his bid for a school board seat failed. Carter’s bid to become the city’s first elected black leader failed by 87 votes.