From a life of hard knocks to the NFL to a movie being made about his life
As a small child, Michael Oher may have dreamed about playing in the NFL or even going to college. But most days it was all he could do to make it to school by lunchtime, often sleeping on front porches and begging for food. But the child had drive and determination, and that kept him going despite unmentionable hardships. “I always wanted to be an NBA player, or play in the NFL, but I also thought about being a lawyer.”
The 23-year-old grew up in Memphis, and by a twist of fate, attended Briarcrest Christian Academy, where he played on the Saints football team, but not until his junior year. During his senior year, he was appointed to play left tackle. He played so well that he became extremely well regarded as a prospect once he came to the attention of scouts, due to his size and athleticism. ESPN football analyst Tom Lemming ranked him as the number one offensive line prospect in high school in 2004 and in 2005, Oher was selected to play in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Recruited by several SEC teams, Oher made the decision to go to college at the University of Mississippi, where his adoptive family has strong roots. Sean Touhy played basketball at Ole Miss, and his wife, Leigh Anne, was a cheerleader for the Rebels. While at Ole Miss, Oher majored in criminal justice, and he played on the Rebels football team.
Oher started in 10 games as a guard during his first season with Mississippi, becoming a first-team freshman All American. He shifted to his position of left tackle for the 2006 season, and was named to a variety of preseason All-Conference and All-American teams. Oher was named a second-team SEC offensive lineman after his sophomore season and a first-team SEC offensive lineman after his junior season.
During college, Oher realized he could have a chance in the NFL. “Just playing football, I got better as the years went on. I just got better and saw I had an opportunity.” Oher declared that he would be entering the NFL Draft in 2008, but two days later, he announced his withdrawal from the draft to return to Ole Miss for his senior season. After the 2008-2009 college football season, Oher was selected to the AP All-American first team.
The Baltimore Ravens drafted Oher in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Oher was the 23rd pick in the first round, a pick that Baltimore received from the New England Patriots in exchange for the Ravens’ first and fifth round picks. The Touhy family was there to witness the moment.
The key to his success, according to Oher, is “a lot of hard work and determination. When somebody tells me that I can’t do something, I just work harder to do it.”
There have been a lot of highlights so far in his NFL career, but the coolest part of Oher’s job is “just being out there in front of all the fans and having the NFL logo on the side of my helmet!”
When he’s not practicing or playing football, Oher enjoys spending time with his family, Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy and their children, Collins and Sean Jr. He also enjoys watching movies and going to theme parks.
Editor’s Note: The movie “The Blind Side,” about the life of Michael Oher recently opened in theatres.
By SUSAN MARQUEZ I Contributor