Is Tyson's Run a True Story? What's Real vs. Fake In Tyson Hollerman Movie

By David Thompson Posted:
Tyson's Run

Many viewers are wondering what aspects of Tyson's Run legitimately happened in real life - here's the answer.

Tyson's Run is a 2022 film directed by Kim Bass that tells the story of Tyson Hollerman, a 15-year-old boy with autism who embarks on a journey to prove himself by training for a citywide marathon. 

Many viewers have found the film a few years after its release now that it is streaming on Netflix, featuring Rory Cochrane, Amy Smart, Major Dodson, and Barkhad Abdi.

However, many believe that the film is based on true events, but that is not exactly the truth.

Is Tyson's Run Based on a True Story?

Tyson's Run movie running
Tyson's Run

The short answer is no, Tyson Hollerman is a character, not based on a real-life person who overcame similar hurdles in reality.

However, there were many inspirations for Tyson's Run, despite it not being based on real-life events.

While the film is not directly based on a true story, writer and director Kim Bass drew inspiration from real experiences.

He told the Observer-Dispatch that following an interaction with a boy in his son's elementary school class who struggled with running due to feeling different from his peers.

As Bass explained, the little boy told him how he wanted to stop running because he wasn't as fast as the other boys:

"He told me, 'I know I'm fast, but all the other boys are super fast. So I don't want to run anymore.'"

The movie portrays Tyson's challenges and triumphs in a realistic setting, showcasing his perseverance and determination to overcome obstacles with the support of his family and friends. Although Tyson is a fictional character, his experiences are relatable to many individuals with autism and their families.

Bass also mentioned how when creating the character, Tyson thinks his family dynamics will improve "if he becomes some kind of champion of something," and that he will be able to communicate with his father through this.

"Thinking if he becomes some kind of champion of something, his mother and father will have a better relationship and his family will be healed...He thinks that's the way to communicate with his father."

Those with autism notably have a harder time communicating, which can lead to social issues and anxiety.

Tyson's Run delves into the complexities of parenthood, especially raising a child diagnosed with autism, and highlights the emotional journey of Tyson's parents, Bobby and Eleanor. These characters were drawn from real-life accounts and experiences of families dealing with similar situations.

What About Tyson's Run Is Based on Real-Life?

While not accurate based on history, Tyson's Run is well represented with the leading character being played by an autistic actor.

Major Dodson plays Tyson, who has advocated for autistic actors portraying autistic characters in the past. However, Bass stated that he wasn't aware of Dodson's autism when he was initially cast:

"He was cast based on having done an unbelievably great job."

Tyson's relationships with his parents, friends, and mentor are central to the narrative, emphasizing the importance of acceptance, support, and hope in his journey towards self-discovery and success. 

While prominent characters like Shannon (Layla Felder) and Aklilu (Barkhad Abdi) are fictional, they serve as symbols of acceptance and inspiration for Tyson, reflecting the reality of the challenges faced by individuals with autism. 

Bass also added that while Tyson's Run is an inspirational movie about a child with autism, "This is just an ordinary family:"

"This is just an ordinary family. It's about faith, it's about love, it's about forgiveness."

Regarding faith, there are only small references to Christianity in the film.

This includes characters praying at meal times, a short Church service, and 1 Corinthians 9:24: "Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" shown at the end of the film. 

Tyson's Run is now streaming on Netflix.

- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.