The main character Ali in the book When I Was the Greatest has many similarities to the author Jason Reynolds. One of which is that Ali and Jason were both looked down upon as children and weren't believed in. Whenever Jason was a teenager, none of his teachers believed he would turn out the way he did. Although many people didn't believe, he didn't give up, and he became an author. Ali was also looked down upon whenever it came to fighting. Nobody believed that he could fight, yet alone win, but Ali proved everyone wrong after he beat up five people who had attacked his friend Needles. Both Jason and Ali proved expectations wrong and believed in themselves when nobody else would. This may be the reason for him incorporating characters like Ali into his novels.