The Crossover is Partially Based on Author Kwame Alexander’s Experiences

Image Credit: Alyssa Moran/Disney

Disney+’s sports drama series ‘The Crossover’ revolves around brothers Josh “Filthy McNasty” Bell and Jordan “JB” Bell, who dream of playing in the NBA to become two of the greatest basketball players of all time. Filthy and JB are coached by their father and former professional basketball player Chuck Bell, who also coaches their school basketball team. Their aspirations to become two of the basketball greats get threatened by obstacles that arise among their family and friends, most importantly Chuck’s ill health. Filthy and JB’s saga is unignorably rooted in reality and that’s not accidental.

The True Story Behind The Crossover

‘The Crossover’ is a television adaptation of renowned children’s fiction writer Kwame Alexander’s eponymous novel. Although Alexander’s novel is fictional, the writer was inspired by his own experiences as a twelve-year-old to conceive his work. “I simply wanted to write a good story about sports, family, friendship, and that first crush, all things that were important to me when I was 12,” the writer shared on his website about the inspiration behind writing the children’s novel. Basketball was an integral part of the author’s upbringing the same way it is in the lives of Filthy and JB.

Image Credit: Alyssa Moran/Disney

Like Filthy and JB’s father Chuck, Alexander’s father was a basketball player in college and Air Force. The pieces of advice or “rules” Chuck shares with his two sons are extremely similar to the ones the writer’s father shared with him. “My dad used to say things to me like, ‘You can’t know what you don’t know;’ he is just saying, ‘Never hang around with people who have less to lose than you do.’ My dad used to drop these things on me non-stop, going to school in the morning or when I made a mistake,” Alexander told AdLit. The author’s father’s words can be seen as the foundation of Chuck’s rules, which guide the two boys in life.

Since Alexander wrote the novel inspired by his interactions with his father, he considers the same as a “song to my father and an ode to my father,” as per the same interview. The author conceived Chuck as a reimagining of how his father might have been when he played basketball before entering academia. However, that doesn’t mean that we can find Alexander in Filthy or JB. Although the author loves the sport, he never saw a future in playing basketball as his two protagonists. “I played basketball a lot, but I wasn’t good enough to be competitive. I excelled at tennis and talked a lot of trash, which I bring into the book,” the author told Charleston City Paper about the autobiographical elements in the book.

Kwame Alexander//Image Credit: TEDx Talks/YouTube

Alexander conceived the novel to introduce the nuances of important aspects of life, such as family, to his young readers. He integrated the element of basketball into it to attract the readers. “Ultimately, this is a book about basketball but it is really about so much more. It’s about family and brotherhood and friendship and crossing over from boyhood into manhood. Basketball was just sort of a metaphor, it was a frame, it was a way to sort of get boys to pick up this book, was a way to get girls excited about this book. It was what I remembered liking when I was twelve years old and would have loved to have had a book that dealt with this subject,” Alexander said in the same AdLit interview.

Although the series and its source novel are fictional, they succeed in moving the audiences and readers respectively with their relatability. As far as Alexander is concerned, the same relatability isn’t accidental. The author visited “a lot” of schools to get inspired by the students and their lives, which must have helped him create the fictional saga of two boys who dream to conquer the world by becoming basketball greats.

Read More: Where is The Crossover Filmed?