The Blind Side – The Story of Michael Oher
The Blind Side is about Michael Oher, the 2009 first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. As a child, Michael lived in poverty. He was often homeless and had to learn how to survive on his own while growing up in the housing projects of inner Memphis. He did not know his father and his mother was a drug-addict. He occasionally stayed at his friend’s house and on one of those occasions, his friend’s dad brought the boys to Wingate Christian School hoping that both could enroll at the exclusive private school. After seeing Michael’s athleticsm on the basketball court, Coach Cotton helps get Michael accepted despite his 0.6 GPA.
Feeling out-of-place, Michael plays with the kindergarten children instead of his new classmates and that’s where he befriends 7-year old S.J., the youngest of the Tuohy family. While driving home one winter night, the Tuohys see Michael walking in the dark wearing only a short sleeve shirt and shorts. Leigh Anne tells her husband to pull over where she proceeds to get out of the car and ask Michael if he has a place to stay that night. When he says “no”, she offers her home. The one-night stay becomes an open-ended invitation to stay anytime he wants for as long as he wants, and he even gets his own bedroom. Leigh Anne’s rich friends begin to wonder what she is doing and whether or not she is jeopardizing the safety of her daughter, Collins.
Michael soon begins to act and feel like a member of the family, and the Tuohys seek to become his legal guardians. At school, Michael is told that his grades must improve before he can play football. At first, Michael is not a very good player because of his gentle nature until Leigh Anne tells him one day at practice to protect his teammates like he protects members of his family. Immediately, Michael begins to dominate the game at the line of scrimmage and S.J. sends copies of his game film to colleges in the SEC. When coaches show interest in recruiting him, Leigh Anne learns that Michael needs to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in order to qualify for an NCAA Division I scholarship. Everyone in the Tuohy family chips in to help, as do teachers but it doesn’t appear to be enough so Leigh Anne hires a private tutor, Miss Sue. With everyone on board, Michael’s grades improve and his GPA rises above the 2.5 requirement.
Meanwhile, coaches from the best football programs across the country begin to make personal visits to the Tuohy residence. Leigh Anne, her husband, and Miss Sue are all Ole Miss alumni and let Michael know that they hope he chooses the same school. When he does, the NCAA conduct an investigation to determine whether or not the Tuohys act of kindness was an elaborate ploy to recruit Michael to play for their alma mater. During the investigation, Michael learns that the Tuohys are football boosters and that his high school coach was hired by Ole Miss soon after he accepted the scholorship. Angered, he storms out and confronts Leigh Anne, who is waiting for him outside. He returns to his home and old friends in the projects, but when the gang leader makes crude remarks about Leigh Anne and Collins, he gets into a fight with everyone then runs away.
Feeling responsible, Leigh Anne sets out to look for Michael and even drives into the projects hoping to find him. When Michael finally calls, Leigh Anne goes to pick him up and when they reunite, she tells him that they will support any decision he makes, even if it means playing football for the hated University of Tennessee. Michael returns to the NCAA investigator and tells her that the reason he selected University of Mississippi is because that’s where his family went to school. The movie concludes with the Tuohys dropping Michael off on campus at Ole Miss, then live footage of when Michael is drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at the 2009 NFL draft.
The Blind Side – Real Life, Reel Differences
- Wingate Christian School does not exist; Michael and the Tuohys attended Briarcrest Christian School. The school declined to be represented in the movie after reading the script because of concerned over instances of “artistic license” that stretched the truth.
- The film portrays Oher as someone who’s never played football but in reality, he was a very good football player already. He had played football during his freshman year at a public high school, prior to attending Briarcrest.
- While the movie depicted Collins as a volleyball player and cheerleader, she was actually a pole vaulter and cheerleader. In fact, she was a state pole vaulting champion.
- In addition to football, Oher also excelled at basketball and track. He earned All-State honors in basketball and his team won the District Championship in his senior year. He was also the a state runner-up in the discus throw in his senior year.
- In the film, Collins is a year younger than Michael in school but in reality, they were in the same grade. She even re-arranged her schedule, including dropping out of her AP classes, so her and Michael could be in some of the same classes.
- The movie shows Leigh Anne as the first person who takes an interest in Michael and helps him out. In reality, Sean had already known about Michael and had been paying for his school lunches.
- The Tuohys did not immediately invite Michael to stay with them and the encounter on the road did not happen. Instead, Sean and Leigh Anne observed Michael get off the city bus on a cold snowy day to go to the school gym for warmth, which prompted Leigh Anne to drive to the school the next morning and take Michael shopping for clothes.
Where Are They Now?
Michael Oher earned several All-Freshman, All-American, and All-SEC honors in the four years he played at Ole Miss. After his junior year in January 2008, Oher declared for the 2008 NFL draft but withdrew two days later. In his senior season, he earned All-American honors and was the finalist and semifinalist for several awards and won the SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice in Spring 2009. On April 25, 2009, Oher was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall, by the Baltimore Ravens in the NLF Draft and finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting.
I Beat the Odds, a book Oher wrote about his life experiences, was published in February 2012.
After the 2013-2014 season, Oher became a free agent and signed a new four-year contract with the Tennessee Titans on March 14, 2014. Starting in the 2015 season, he joined the Carolina Panthers, protecting Cam Newton’s blind side.
Sean Tuohy is currently a broadcaster for the Memphis Grizzlies. In addition, he and his wife own over 85 fast food franchises including Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silver’s. He is also heavily involved in supporting minority students at Briarcrest and in creating Grace Evangelical Church, one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in Memphis. Leigh Anne Tuohy owns an interior design company called Flair I with her mom. Their list of clients include Peyton Manning, Scottie Pippen, Isaac Bruce and OJ Mayo. She was also a member of the design team for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for the 2010-11 season. She has a public figure Facebook page and a Twitter account @LeighAnneTuohy, both of which are updated regularly.
Together, Sean and Leigh Anne established The Making it Happen Foundation, a charity to provide opportunities for kids that, like Michael, are close to falling through the cracks. They also published a book in 2010, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, to tell more about their own inspiring story.
Collins Tuohy also attended University of Mississippi at the same time as Michael. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism, served as the President of the Student Alumni Council, President of Student Spirit Committee, an Officer for the Kappa Delta Sorority, and an Ole Miss Varsity Cheerleader. Collins is currently on the Board of the the Making it Happen Foundation and travels the country to talk about her experiences living with Michael as well as on topics like diversity, foster care, adoption, and homeless children.
Sean “S.J.” Tuohy, Jr. is a redshirt freshman on the basketball team at Loyola University Marylandy in 2012-2013. In high school, he helped Briarcrest Christian to a 23-6 record and State runner-up as a senior point guard in 2011-2012. He set a school record with 401 assists while earning All-Division 2A West Second Team honors and being named to the Harding Christmas Invitational and M33M Classic All-Tournament Teams.
Members of Tuohy family, including Michael and Miss Sue, are available for speaking engagements individually or together as a family.
Miss Sue– Sue Mitchell did move to Oxford to continue tutoring Michael, as depicted in the movie. More specifically, she worked for the Ole Miss Athletic Department from 2005 to 2009 as a learning specialist to tutor Michael and other athletes with similar backgrounds. She also serves as alumni advisor for her sorority, Kappa Delta and as an advisor to the National Champion Bartlett Cheerleaders.
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