NFL player Michael Oher won a Super Bowl and played the sport for many years. However, despite being a Super Bowl champion he became famous for a completely different reason.
In 2009, Michael became s an inspirational character in the sports drama film The Blind Side, which also starred Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, and Tim McGraw.
Despite his fame, the film caused some added problems by setting unrealistic expectations.
Scroll down to find out the whole other story about Michael Oher behind The Blind Side.
There are so many stories of inspirational sports people who have become legendary.
Michael Oher – early life
The story of Michael Oher, who became more famous for how he got to play in the NFL, is actually difficult to imagine how he achieved this when you take a look at his childhood.
Michael was born on May 28, 1986, in Memphis, Tennessee, he was one of twelve children and his younger years were tough.
His mother struggled with substances, while his father was in and out of prison.
“When my mother was off drugs and working, she would remember to buy groceries, and there would be a mad scramble to grab whatever you could before anyone else got to it,” he wrote in his 2011 book I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to the Blind Side, and Beyond.
Michael Oher knew what his life would be like so he was determined to grow up and make his escape.
Oher had to grow up quickly because his parents had their problems to deal with.
“She wasn’t really around too much. I took care of myself most of the time,” Oher said in an interview with 20/20.
“I was a heartbroken little kid”
At one point social workers removed him and his siblings from their mother’s home and Michael was put in several foster homes.
Michael had a rough time in school not having a steady home, he attendied nine different schools over the years.
As described in the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game – which became the start of Oher’s fame outside of the football field – social workers feared that he would become an angry young man, with a “masking pent-up rage,” and they sent him to the adolescent unit of St. Joseph Hospital at 10.
However, all of that wasn’t an accurate account.
“I wasn’t mad, I was sad,” Oher wrote in his biography. “I was a heartbroken little kid who was hurt and confused about everything that was going on around me.”
Michael received help from psychiatrists, and spoke about his feelings. However, he didn’t want to stay at the hospital so he ran back to his mother. When Michael was eleven they moved to a housing project called Hurt Village.
Start of football career
The housing project gave Michael Oher a whole different view of life. He witnessed teenage girls having babies while many teenage boys were involved in the gang scene, committing crimes.
So he began to develop his athleticism so he could escape his life of poverty.
“Even if it meant working three jobs, at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell, I wasn’t going to be part of my environment,” he explained.
Oher always dreamed about being a basketball career as he played basketball while living at the Hurt Village housing project. However, this sport wasn’t meant to be.
At the Hurt Village’s community basketball league Michael Oher met a person a boy called Steve, whose father, “Big Tony” Henderson, was a coach.
Both boys were determined to attend college. “Big Tony” took care of Michael, one day, he brought the two to Briarcrest Christian School outside of Cordova, Tennessee.
Henderson convinced the school to take in both Michael and Steve but while there another significant person entered his life.
Michael Oher – Leigh Anne Tuohy
Michael played an offensive tackle in football, he had an excellent talent but his grades weren’t good enough, so the school’s football coach Hugh Freeze decided to help. He submitted an application to the school’s headmaster, who agreed to let Michael play once he completed a home study program.
In 2003, Michael met Leigh Anne Tuohy she had a son and daughter attending Briarcrest.
Leigh and her husband Sean took Michael in and hired a home tutor to help him improve his grades so he could attend college.
In 2004, Michael Oher was adopted by Leigh and Sean. Leigh was the first person to tell him, “I love you,” even though it took a while for Michael to believe her.
He explained “A child still needs to hear those words. A kid has to know they’re wanted.”
Became a high school superstar
The Tuohy family provided him with the crucial support he needed to pursue his dream.
“They didn’t treat me like I was fragile or with curiosity like I was a strange creature they had to figure out before we could get close,” he wrote in his memoir. “I was able to understand what I’d suspected, that a life like mine in childhood wasn’t normal, and it wasn’t okay.”
“He thinks I birthed him,” Leigh Anne explained jokingly. “It’s gotten to the point where I think I birthed him. He takes great offense if people don’t think that he’s a part of the family.”
“It was just me and him all the time,” Sean Jr, Michael’s brother, recalled. “We didn’t miss a beat. I always introduced him as my big brother.”
Oher’s life changed when he started attending Briarcrest, it didn’t take long before University coaches began to know exactly who he was.
NFL contract worth $13.8 million
In 2003, Michael Oher was named the Lineman of the Year after reaching the First Team Tennessee All-State. Universities from all over America wanted to offer him a scholarship. After getting the grades Michael decided to chose the University of Mississippi.
In 2009, Michael graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice and was also drafted by the NFL team Baltimore Ravens. He signed a five-year contract with the team worth $13.8 million during the summer.
Michael’s life changed in so many ways that year including the premiere of the film The Blind Side.
The movie which was written and directed by John Lee Hancock starred Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, and Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy.
Michael Oher criticized ‘The Blind Side’
The film became an instant hit in Hollywood, Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. However, Michael didn’t quite enjoy some parts how he was portrayed in the film. He felt his real story didn’t come through on-screen.
“The movie’s great, very inspiring,” Oher said. “The football part is the only part I have a problem with. Sports was all I had when I was growing up – it made me look like I just didn’t know anything.”
Michael told ESPN that the film harmed his career.
“I’m not trying to prove anything,” Oher said. “People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie. They don’t really see the skills and the kind of player I am. That’s why I get downgraded so much, because of something off the field.
“Who gives a damn about what people say”
“This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not … that has nothing to do with football. It’s something else off the field. That’s why I don’t like that movie.”
It didn’t take long before the actor Quinton Aaron responded
“You gotta at some point notice the amount of people’s lives this movie has touched in a positive, encouraging, and inspiring manner,” he explained. “At the end of the day, bro, you are a millionaire, you’re famous, you are a Super Bowl Champ, you have an amazing family that loves you, friends, fans, and teammates.”
“Who gives a damn about what people say or think who wanna criticize your game, bro, that shouldn’t matter. Somebody is always going to have something to say that you’re not going to like,” he added. “So what, you had a couple of bad seasons. I believe you’ve got a lot more fuel in the tank, so let’s start hashing out some good ones and forget what people think about you. I got your back, brotha God Bless!”
In 2017, Michael ended his playing career and has been focused on helming others since then.
Michael Oher today…
Michael created the Good Deeds application which allows people to connect within their community to help struggling people.
“It is all about connecting people who have needs with those who want to give,” he said. “Download the app and help a child in need beat the odds like I did. Be an answer to someone’s prayers.”