He played as the wide receiver on the football team at South Crenshaw High School, before being approached by Beverly High School football coach Billy Baker, who asked him to start playing for his football team. After Spencer accepts the offer, he finds himself in a world completely different from what he has always known.
He is South Crenshaw High’s All-Star football player. After successfully bringing resources back to his community, saving South Crenshaw High, and being named an All American, his eyes are now on the future. However, the pursuit of his NFL dreams is increasingly complicated by the two very different worlds and two very different families that all need him. Navigating these pressures on and off the field, while not losing sight of his own identity, is the lesson he must keep learning.
Spencer James is the star of South Crenshaw High School's football team. The football team huddles up, and Spencer tells his teammates he wants the ball. The next play is a deep pass to Spencer. He flips into the end zone and scores. His team wins and the crowd cheers. Well until they hear gunshots.
After, Spencer's approached by Billy Baker, the coach of Beverly High. The coach tries to convince Spencer to come play at his school and assures him that he can get around the recruiting rules. According to coach, Beverly High is a better and safer school, and he can make his NFL dreams a reality. However, Spencer declines the offer and walks away.
At South Crenshaw High School, Spencer, in an attempt to protect his friend, Coop, gets into a fight. Returning home, he's greeted by Coach Baker. It seems as if he's told Spencer's mother, Grace, all about the offer. She agrees that going to Beverly is the best thing for him.
it's clear that Beverly High is a completely different world. In Spencer's first class, everyone has a computer except him. The girl behind him, Olivia, offers to share and then shows him around school. Jordan, Beverly High's QB, introduces himself to Spencer. Turns out, Jordan, is Coach Baker's son. And Olivia is the coach's daughter.
Jordan introduces Spencer to the group including Layla and Asher, who plays the same position and isn't too happy about Spencer joining the team. He says something rude and Spencer walks away. Layla ends up apologizing for him and they engage in conversation. Realizing that Spencer notices things that other people can't, Layla is curious as to what he sees in her. He says she's like a defensive back: confident, wants to call all the plays, and seems lonely.
Spencer's first practice doesn't go very well. After he runs the wrong plays, Jordan calls him out on it. Coach Baker wants to try Spencer out on a new position, and Spencer refuses. Adamant on scoring touchdowns, he's against playing defense. After practice, Spencer complains to Coop about Coach Baker and the team. He doesn't know if he wants to be at Beverly, but Coop reassures him. She tells him to make this his season.
Jordan brings Spencer to the Baker house, and Spencer takes notice of how amazing the house is. Jordan reveals that his mother, Laura, is an attorney. While they're hanging out, Jordan overhears his dad on the phone. Billy wouldn't have recruited Spencer if anyone on his team had half his potential.
Together, Jordan and Asher develop a plan and get Spencer to come to a party that night and take shots. Spencer's worried since they have practice the next day but they assure him it's just drills. Jordan and Asher pour their drinks out, but Spencer gets pretty drunk, and it shows the next day.
At practice, Spencer quickly learns it's scrimmage day, and he was tricked. He gets angry and starts to fight, but Coach Baker breaks it up. Spencer lashes at Coach Baker, too, because he thinks Billy only wants to save his job and doesn't care about him.
Again, Coop encourages Spencer to take his chance. Not only can Spencer help his mother, but he can give his brother, Dillon, a better life. So, he goes to Coach Baker and tells him he wants to play in the NFL. After the win, Coach Baker and Spencer walk off the field together -- which Jordan sees. Jordan's feelings are obviously hurt, and he's a little jealous. Coach Baker is proud of Spencer.
Spencer walks off the field. He's headed towards Olivia, but Layla swoops in. She apologizes for the party and claims she didn't know. Spencer assures her that it's okay and they agree to be friends.
Back at school, Spencer is a star. Everyone seems to be excited to see him, and he seems to love all the attention. But Coach Baker pulls him aside with some bad news: his transfer permit is being contested. Spencer has to move in with the Baker's so he can keep playing for Beverly High.
After winning his first pee-wee football game, a young Spencer runs over to his mother, Grace, and asks if his father made it back into town to see him play. After his mother delivers the bad news, a disappointed Spencer runs away. Present day, Spencer is shown running across the beach in Beverly Hills as he catches a football. Obviously homesick, Spencer is in Crenshaw on a weekday. However, his return is bittersweet when he learns that his childhood friend Coop has been spending time with Shawn, a neighborhood gang member. And, to make matters worse, Dylan shows him a comic book that Shawn bought him. Agitated, Spencer heads out to confront Shawn, which leads to a scuffle. Fortunately, Coop saves the day but it's not a warm embrace. Later, Spencer and Coop reconcile.
After Layla and Spencer have a heartfelt talk, she wants him to stay longer and have a beer; however, a responsible Spencer declines. Spencer is taking a shower at the Baker's home in Beverly Hills, unbeknownst to Olivia -- who steps in just as he steps out. It's an awkward moment. As Jordan and Billy are running plays, input from Spencer inadvertently steals Jordan's thunder. During football practice, Spencer causes Asher to sprain his ankle. Spencer suggests that he, himself, take on both offense and defense. It's apparent that Spencer has begun to step on Jordan's and Asher's toes.
Before the Booster Party, the night has finally arrived for Spencer to get scouted, but he's quickly reminded of how much he doesn't fit in when all he has is a tracksuit instead of a business suit for the event. Luckily, Olivia finds one of her father's suits for Spencer to wear. During the Booster Party, Spencer still feels left out, so he clings to Olivia until Layla walks in. Later, Asher's father, Mr. Adams sizes Spencer up -- pissed that his son can't play due to his sprained ankle. After taking a few "subtle" jabs and causing a scene, Mr. Adams drops the bomb about Spencer's residency. With everyone calm, Spencer, in an attempt to show off what he's made of, tries again to convince Billy to let him play both offense and defense in the next game.
At Beverly High, it's time for the game. But Spencer has injured ribs due to the scuffle with Shawn and it impairs his ability to play. Here, Spencer's pride becomes his worst enemy. Beverly High loses in the last four seconds when a not-so-talented play is called into the game and misses the winning catch. Later, after Jordan apologizes to him, Billy lets Spencer know that the family wants him to stay. They have a nice loving family dinner.
Spencer and Jordan seem to have reconnected. While walking the halls of Beverly High, Spencer quickly realizes he is the center of attention. He notices everyone is staring at their phones and he asks a schoolmate for a look. On the screen is a meme of Spencer fumbling a "40 oz" of malt liquor, instead of the football. Racial tension rises in the hallway when Spencer sees Asher's friends watching him as well.
In an effort to better understand Spencer, Jordan invites himself to Spencer's house in Crenshaw. Spencer doesn't know about this until he sees Jordan's car parked outside. Inside, Spencer finds Jordan washing dishes while Grace prepares food for the evening's cookout. Jordan has crossed a line with Spencer, but Spencer's family is all open arms and invites him to stay for the gathering. While at the cookout, Spencer realizes that his old teammates no longer accept him since his move to Beverly Hills and now Jordan is a threat to Spencer's place among them. Spencer's supposed "friend" Chris calls Spencer a "joke" when Spencer tries to call a truce after a ruthless football game between Beverly Hills High and Crenshaw -- one that abruptly ended when the security guards showed up.
Jordan receives a startling wake up call when he and Spencer are harassed by police officers during their ride back to Beverly Hills. Spencer is very cooperative; however, Jordan has never experienced this and chooses to stand up for himself. The cops get more aggressive with Jordan and proceed to slam him on the pavement before handcuffing both he and Spencer. They finally make it back to the Baker's home in Beverly Hills. Spencer questions Billy as to why Jordan hasn't been taught how to deal with police officers.
At this point, Spencer really is an outcast and he's forced to choose a side, but he knows where he comes from. He apologizes to the Beverly Hills team the following day and convinces everyone to make amends -- even Asher.
The Beverly Hills Eagles have reconciled after Spencer's much-needed apology, and their even bonding as a team. Spencer attends Asher's party. Spencer senses that Asher is acting strangely but can't put a finger on why. Olivia finally agrees to go but shortly after arriving she and Spencer are naked in a jacuzzi -- a dare brought on by Layla during a gambling game to get them together.
A continuation of the gambling game leads to an abrupt end when Asher loses his dad's porsche to one of his teammates, JJ, who then crashes it. Asher is desperate for a solution until Spencer offers to help. Asher is broke: the house isn't is, and neither is the car. Spencer gets the car repaired in Crenshaw for Asher, but it gets stolen. Spencer calls Coop, and she involves Shawn and now Spencer has to depend on Shawn for help. This time he helps Spencer and the car is returned to its home back in Beverly Hills. Spencer advises Asher to tell Layla about his financial problems.
Spencer confesses to his mother that he lost the cash that the coach gave him. She gives him some much needed advice. Back in Beverly Hills at the Baker's home, Spencer tells Billy that he doesn't want any more handouts and gets a job at a restaurant in Beverly Hills.
It's Spencer's birthday but he's not even excited -- everyone else is. He wants to celebrate in Crenshaw, but Laura convinces him to have a party in Beverly Hills. Layla gives him field seats to a UCLA vs Eastern Nevada football game as a "thank you"/ birthday gift for helping Asher. Spencer tells her his father is the coach for the Houston team and he hasn't seen him in six years.
Spencer's party is going smoothly until Willy appears and the coach is pissed. Eventually, Willy creates a scene when he blurts out that Billy and Grace dated in high school. Spencer becomes pissed to the point that he leaves to confront his father at the UCLA/Eastern Nevada football game. Spencer is walking down a bus terminal and sees a man standing next to the Houston football team's bus. He's hopeful when he taps the man on the shoulder and asks for Corey James. It's not his father. Them man tells him that Corey stopped working for the Eastern Nevada football team and lives in LA.
The coach catches up with Spencer and basically says that he wants Spencer to be part of his family. Spencer reconciles with Grace; ready to let go of his father completely.
During an impressive game against Culver City, Spencer looks into the stands and isn't happy that Coop is not there, he suspects that she is with Shawn.
After the game, Layla becomes annoyed with Asher when he starts talking about his father taking him in a private jet to go snorkeling. She leaves the table just when Spencer comes around to serve their food. JP praises Spencer for his performance and appreciates that he is from Crenshaw. JP is from Harlem. JP invites Spencer to hear Chynna's music that weekend, but he declines. Spencer mentions he's a volunteer at Alvin's Block Party. JP is impressed with Spencer.
After work, Spencer finds Coop hugged up with Patience, but their interaction is cut short when Shawn arrives and pulls Coop away for a job. Spencer is concerned and asks Patience about Coop's whereabouts but all she can say is Coop spends more time with Shawn. Spencer decides to come up with a plan to get Coop from under Shawn.
Everyone can tell Layla doesn't like Chynna. Spencer sees nothing for her to be concerned about, but Layla won't let it go. Spencer and Layla meet JP and Chynna for lunch. JP needs Alvin's permission to use his Block Party as a venue for Chynna's album release party. They ensure Spencer that it won't overshadow the Block Party, so Spencer agrees but only if Coop gets to MC.
Sadly, Alvin's Barbershop gets tagged and Spencer thinks Coop knows who did it. Spencer really doesn't want Coop and Shawn to be friends. Gunshots go off during Chynna's performance and everyone panics. Coop rushes to find Shawn. Spencer chases after Coop but scolds her when they find the members of the rival gang dead in the barbershop's parking lot as the police are investigating. Shawn has disappeared. Spencer tries to lecture Coop about Shawn but she leaves the scene to look for him anyway. Spencer confronts Shawn at his apartment and threatens him if Coop gets hurt. Spencer leaves but he doesn't know that Coop is already there.
In the restaurant, Layla praises Spencer for being real and she kisses him, then they make out. Olivia is bawling outside.
Spencer has become more persistent on courting Layla.
Coop chastises Spencer and Chris for not enjoying themselves. Coop leaves Spencer and Chris to squash their beef. Spencer threatens Chris about Olivia but it doesn't phase Chris. He tells Spencer that Olivia has lingering feelings for him.
Spencer gets dropped off in front of his home in Crenshaw in a limousine and sees Coop sitting on the front steps. He can tell something is wrong. Spencer and Coop review the outcomes of their evenings: Spencer decided not to date Layla; Coop found herself and Shawn on Tyrone's bad side when he plan to help Shawn went sour. The situation with Tyrone doesn't create a wider wedge in Spencer and Coop's friendship, instead they become closer.
The next morning, Spencer takes the blame for certain situations, but Grace reassures him that all he can do is make choices that will better his life and that he can't save everybody else.
Coop's back is against the wall and she turns to Spencer for help. Spencer reaches out to Laura, who is an attorney, and she tells them to snitch on Tyrone. Coop is not having it because she knows that's just asking to be killed. Spencer urges her to take the advice. At Shawn's apartment, Spencer tries to convince Shawn as well but he isn't too happy about it either.
During the Beverly High vs Malibu game, Billy realizes that Coach Scolnick has their plays. With no time to create new plays, he decides to use Crenshaw's. Spencer teams up with Chris, both orchestrating a win.
Later, after officially opening her heart up to Spencer, Layla appears at the Baker's house and in Spencer's room. The two have sex. Afterwards, Spencer finally admits his feelings for her.
Finally, after the coach receives an anonymous tip about a player on the Beverly Hills team using drugs, a random drug test is administered. Coach Skolnick attempts to turn Spencer against Billy by telling him that he can't be trusted and that Billy won't stop at anything until he gets what he wants.
Spencer is very confident and defensive. He always stands his ground and stands up for what he believes in. He cares about his friends and family and will do anything to help them. Although he can be a bit stubborn, such as when he threw punches at Darnell when he showed up at his school, and when he played a football game when his shoulder wasn't in fully healed and ready, he always comes through in the end. He is very headstrong and always puts 100% into what he does. He also tends to blame himself for other people's problems and choices and thinks that he can save everyone when he really can't.
Spencer moving to Beverly Hills has changed him a lot. While living in Crenshaw his anger about his father abandoning him resulted in him constantly getting into fights and pushing away the people he loves, as shown in several flashbacks. He finally learns how to love and keep the people that are closest to him in his life.
He loves to earn things rather than having them given to him. He cares about his mother and his younger brother very much and was willing to go back and forth between Crenshaw and Beverly Hills just to see them. He cares about his neighborhood and the people in it. He is never willing to go down without a fight.
He is also humble to a fault. He dislikes tooting his own horns, talking about himself, even when self-promotion is necessary, or take time to celebrate his own accomplishments. In order to make himself feel more at ease, he even donated 25% of all revenue of the sales of his branded apparel back to the community for scholarships, community-focused sports, arts and educational camps. He also pledge to continue the deed even after college.
Spencer is tall and lean, but undersized by wide receiver's standards as he's under 6-feet tall. He has a very muscular body, really bulked in the shoulders and legs, as he plays Wide Receiver, but he started out as a running back, and also played as a gunner on special teams. He has dark skin and waves in his hair. He dresses often in jeans, denim and dark, with simple shirts and oversized hoodies or flannels. In recent episodes, Spencer has been seen in Crenshaw merchandise, referencing the town, The Slauson Cafe, and other well-known landmarks from the community.
Coop is Spencer's best friend. He is her "big brother" protector and after he gets an offer at Beverly High School, she encourages him to take it. She is very supportive of his dreams and vice versa. He encourages her to be proud of who she is and what she believes in. He also tries to keep her out of trouble when she joins a gang, and always know when to put her in her place, which she is equally willing to reciprocate.
Of all of his relationships in Beverly Hills, he developed the closest one with Olivia. When he first arrived, it appeared they had liked each other, but was quickly dismissed when she brushed him off because of Jordan's hunch. They developed a close friendship, always confiding in and are very understanding of each other. She always tries to keep him on the right track often a guiding light for him and his biggest supporter. They are the only people who can make each other feel safe. Their relationship changed once they admitted they were in love. Despite her being in recovery, they found a way to be together.
Layla was Spencer's crush when he first arrived at Beverly Hills. When he first met her, they instantly connected. They started dating after the Homecoming game. Their relationship was starting to hit a rocky point when she was struggling with her mental health, spiraling quite bit, and it accelerated to a dangerous extreme, but because of her desperation to be able to support herself, she tried to keep him out of it. When she caught him and Olivia in her hotel room checking up on her when she had her spiral, she called off their relationship. After she went to rehab, and realized Spencer had never done anything but try to help her, they eventually became good friends, not jumping back into their relationship until Layla feels along enough in her recovery to focus on something other than herself. In Season 3, we see them finally get back together, until Spencer reveals what happened between him and Olivia in Vegas that last summer, which ended their relationship for good.
Jordan is Spencer's former Beverly High teammate and one his closest friends. They have had a rocky relationship in the beginning. He was initially jealous of Spencer because he felt as if he was taking up his father's attention, when Jordan wanted to resolve his own issues with his father, and felt ultimately overshadowed. There was a lot of petty conflict coming from unresolved tensions between Jordan and his father that put a strain on their teamwork, but eventually, Jordan and Spencer overcame that, building a brotherly bond.
Asher was Spencer's rival at Beverly Hills when he first started there, and it continued in a semi-friendly way as their relationship grew. Asher hated that Spencer was into his girlfriend, Layla, a burning jealousy developing, mostly spawned from Spencer threatening his starting spot as Wide Receiver. When Spencer helped fix the car Asher busted during a house party, their relationship saw a turn for the better. Although as the show goes on Asher takes those extra steps to understand his frustrations and settle them and eventually befriends Spencer.
Dillon is Spencer's little brother. Due to the absence of their father, Spencer really feels the need to make up some ground towards Dillon, going above and beyond as his older brother. He is always there for Dillon and would do anything to keep him safe. Although their relationship is pretty stable, in One of Them Nights Dillon was upset with Spencer because he hasn't been around back home in such a long time and felt somewhat abandoned him, like his father. However, at the end of that episode, the two boys reconcile and Spencer makes sure he's apart of Dillon's life more consistently.
Grace is Spencer's mother. They have a very close relationship as mother and son. She often pushes him to do what makes him happy and be proud of who he is, and not care what other people think stand in the way of that. He has great love and respect, as learnt his core values from her.
Laura is a second mother figure to him, and they have a surprisingly stable relationship. She is very kind to him and treats him like a second son. After finding out that Billy had an affair with his mother, Spencer moved out of the Baker household because he didn't want to mess up Laura's life. However, Laura told Spencer that their drama had nothing to do with him and that that they all love him and she was welcome to him coming back to her house. He has not deigned to leave until Season 3, where he moved back to Crenshaw to help save the local high school.
Billy first met Spencer at a Crenshaw football game. He offered Spencer a spot at Beverly Hills, which he initially declined, but encouragement from his mother pushed him to accept. Billy somewhat acted as the father figure Spencer didn't remember having in many ways. Along with Billy moving Spencer into his home, he treats Spencer like a second son. Their friendship deepens the more they interact. Spencer and Billy have a ride-or-die relationship, and though they have had their disagreements, they still have a bond over the game and people they love.
- The actor Daniel Ezra has a British accent, specifically a Multicultural London English accent . He also had no prior knowledge or skills about American Football.
- Daniel Ezra is left-handed. Spencer James, however, is ambidextrous. Spencer Paysinger, in reality, is also left-handed.
- This is Spencer's and Olivia's first relationship where they're not constantly trying to fix each other problems.
- Spencer is a very caring person and when it comes to his friends he is willing to delay his own happiness, one of the things that Olivia and Spencer share in their personalities.
- In the episode Teenage Love its explained that when Spencer says I love he actually means it and does love you; Layla gets a look on her face and realizes that he's never said I love you to her and she finds out later that he does say it to Olivia.
|All American: Season One|
|#01||"Pilot"||#09||"Keep Ya Head Up"|
|#02||"99 Problems"||#10||"M.A.A.D. City"|
|#03||"I"||#11||"All Eyez on Me"|
|#04||"Lose Yourself"||#12||"Back in the Day"|
|#05||"All We Got"||#13||"Legacy"|
|#06||"The Choice Is Yours"||#14||"Regulate"|
|#07||"California Love"||#15||"Best Kept Secret"|
|All American: Season Two|
|#01||"Hussle & Motivate"||#09||"One of Them Nights"|
|#02||"Speak Ya Clout"||#10||"Protect Ya Neck"|
|#03||"Never No More"||#11||"Crossroads"|
|#04||"They Reminisce Over You"||#12||"Only Time Will Tell"|
|#05||"Bring the Pain"||#13||"The Art of Peer Pressure"|
|#06||"Hard Knock Life"||#14||"Who Shot Ya"|
|#07||"Coming Home"||#15||"Stakes Is High"|
|#08||"Life Goes On"||#16||"Decisions"|
|All American: Season Three|
|#01||"Seasons Pass"||#11||"The Bigger Picture"|
|#02||"How to Survive in South Central"||#12||"Fight the Power"|
|#03||"High Expectations"||#13||"Bring the Noise"|
|#04||"My Mind's Playing Tricks on Me"||#14||"Ready or Not"|
|#05||"How Come"||#15||"After Hours"|
|#06||"Teenage Love"||#16||"No Opp Left Behind"|
|#07||"Roll the Dice"||#17||"All American: Homecoming"|
|#08||"Canceled"||#18||"Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)"|
|#09||"Testify"||#19||"Surviving the Times"|
|#10||"Put Up Or Shut Up"|
|All American: Season Four|
|#01||"Survival of the Fittest"||#11||"TBA"|
|#02||"I Ain't Goin' Out Like That"||#12||"TBA"|
|#03||"All I Need"||#13||"TBA"|
|#04||"Bird in the Hand"||#14||"TBA"|
|#05||"Can It All Be So Simple"||#15||"TBA"|
|#06||"Show Me A Good Time"||#16||"TBA"|
|#08||"Walk This Way"||#18||"TBA"|
|#09||"Got Your Money"||#19||"TBA"|
|#10||"6 'N the Mornin"|