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Why Did All American Kill Billy Baker & How Did He Die?

The sports drama "All American" has earned a spot as one of the CW's best shows, with the recent fifth season being the series' most drama-packed outing yet. Midway through Season 5, Coach Billy Baker — played by Taye Diggs — tragically dies in a bus accident. More specifically, he dies in a moment of self-sacrifice. Episode 11, titled "Time," sees Billy, Asher (Cody Christian), and the team traveling to a combine in which the South Crenshaw players showcase their skills to a number of college coaches.

On the way home, the bus's tire blows out, causing it to crash and teeter on the edge of a cliff. Billy and the others exit safely, until Billy realizes that Jabari (Simeon Daise) is missing. He reenters the bus to rescue his player, after which he dies off-screen.

Two episodes later in "Day Ones," audiences see a flashback of that fateful night on the bus, revealing the painful details of Billy's death and the source of Jabari's survivor's guilt. As he helps the injured Jabari off of the bus, Billy realizes he can't shift his weight without the bus toppling over the edge. Billy asks Jabari to tell his family he loves him.

"It's the minute Billy knew, 'Two of us don't make it off,'" showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll told TVLine. "And it's not shock on Billy's face. It's almost acceptance, because he realized a couple minutes ago that that was his fate."

The moment wasn't shocking for Diggs either, who knew his character would be departing the series.

We haven't entirely seen the last of Billy Baker

Taye Diggs' Billy Baker has been the backbone of "All American" since the series premiered in 2018. Although the show is still a boon for the CW, Diggs knew it was time to hang up his hat. "As an actor, there are times when you just feel in your spirit and your soul that you kind of need to move on," he said on "LIVE with Kelly and Mark." "I expressed that to our showrunner, and she immediately understood and then started working on a very classy exit."

Diggs and Nkechi Okoro Carroll came to a mutual decision towards the end of Season 4. "Even though it was so far in advance, I already knew that whenever it would happen, that this was how I was going to do it," the showrunner told Variety. "I pitched it to him like I was pitching an episode, beat by beat, even though it was still easily a year away," says Carroll. "He was like, 'It feels like the right time and it feels like the right way to do it.' It just felt right for both of us." In the episodes following Billy's death, we see a number of characters' personal reactions, from Olivia's (Samantha Logan) trouble with sobriety in the face of grief to Spencer (Daniel Ezra) losing a critical father figure.

Still, Season 5 isn't the last we'll see of Billy Baker. Diggs confirmed that his character will reappear in spectral form in Season 6 of "All American," at which point he'll act as a ghostly mentor to Spencer, Jordan (Michael Evans Behling), and whoever else needs wisdom from beyond the mortal coil.