Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Monday, February 13, episode of All American.
A tragedy no one saw coming. All American fans are reeling after a bus crash led to the shocking death of a main character.
The Monday, February 13, season 5 episode, titled “Time,” saw Taye Diggs’ Billy Baker die by re-entering a bus after an accident to save the life of one of his students.
The initial cras, which occurs on the way home from Crenshaw High School’s football combine, leaves no one majorly injured. However, after realizing one of the players is missing from the group, Billy climbs back into the vehicle — which was left dangling on the edge of a cliff — in an attempt save the student’s life.
Viewers aren’t given an inside look at what happens once Billy runs back into the bus, but his son, Jordan Baker (Michael Evans Behling), delivers the devastating news upon returning home from the harrowing scene.
Under the impression that Billy was safe and sound after the first crash, Liv and Laura break down in unrelenting sobs as Spencer, who has been arguing with his mentor the past few episodes, stands in shock over the devastating loss.
While most major TV character deaths are revealed during premieres or finales, Diggs’ surprising exit comes during a seemingly random midseason episode — just a few weeks after All American was renewed for a sixth season. The Best Man alum, 52, has starred on the hit CW series since its premiere in October 2018.
“It has been an honor to work with Taye over these last five seasons and to watch him bring such incredible life to the role of Billy Baker. It has truly been a gift for me and my fellow writers to write a character that was equally flawed and heroic,” All American showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll told Us Weekly in a statement on Monday. “Billy was all of us and what a joy it was to watch this character grow as he raised his kids and his football players as one big family. We wish Taye the very best in this next chapter of his life and he remains a beloved member of the All American family, so you haven’t seen the last of Billy Baker.”
All American follows standout Crenshaw player Spencer James after he’s recruited to play at Beverly Hills High by Billy, the head coach at Beverly. As he gets Spencer adjusted to his new world, his old friends at Crenshaw and new friends at Beverly collide.
Over the years, the show has reached beyond football to touch on various topics including violence, relationships and racism and was named the No. 1 series on The CW in key demographics. Diggs’ Billy, who went on to coach at both schools during his time on the show, has served as a mainstay and a guiding life for the younger generation of characters.
In 2021, the Rent actor opened up about what exactly drew him to his role on the teen drama — and how the decision to play Billy came from a passion over business perspective.
“This is the one show where I kind of went with my gut instead of where the money was or where the other names were,” Diggs told Entertainment Weekly in 2021. “I’ve gotten really lucky with the work that I’ve done, but before this show, I wasn’t very familiar with The CW. And then the piece really moved me and I’m at the age now where I listen to that little voice inside. I stopped reading all the other scripts and I said I just wanted to stick with this one.”
Diggs added that while he initially didn’t think the show would catch on with a wider audience, he was “ecstatic” that it started “resonating” with people. “For me, it’s just the lesson to be patient and to keep listening to your instincts. We couldn’t be more grateful,” he shared.
All American airs on The CW Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.