- Father is a juvenile probation officer.
- Went to St. Mary's College on a football scholarship; originally studied chemistry, but his English professor encouraged him to become a screenwriter.
- Was a wide receiver for Sacramento State, and was named to the All-Big Sky Conference team twice.
- Developed the screenplay for Fruitvale Station at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
- Continued working as a youth guidance counselor and security guard at a juvenile hall in San Francisco after he started making films.