The True Story Behind "The Blind Side"

The movie “The Blind Side” was based on the biographical book from 2006 titled “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” which tells the story of Michael Oher, an NFL player. Oher’s life was not easy, and in fact, it was quite impressive how he overcame his difficult upbringing and became who he is today. In this article, we will be detailing the intricacies of his life, as well as how the movie depicted it, and challenges that arose ...

Image Credits: Getty Images / Thearon W. Henderson | Tackle Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panther addresses the media prior to Super Bowl 50 at the San Jose Convention Center.


MICHAEL OHER: THE PERSON BEHIND THE MOVIE

The main character of the movie “The Blind Side”, as well as of this story, is Michael Oher. Growing up in a broken home, Oher had to deal with several difficulties growing up, including having an estranged relationship with his father, who would die while he was still a student at a high-school level.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mississippi / Collegiate Images | Michael Oher #74 offensive lineman of the University of Mississippi Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi.


HOW DID MICHAEL OHER’S LIFE START?

Born on May 28th, 1986, Michael Oher’s birth name is Michael Jerome Williams Jr. Originally from Memphis in Tennesee, he had eleven siblings which, along with him, received very little support from their parents. Their father, Michael Jerome Williams Sr. was often in prison, and their mother Denise Oher was also struggling. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun / Tribune News Service | The Baltimore Ravens' Michael Oher.


THE DIFFICULT CHILDHOOD BEFORE BECOMING A PRODIGY

Due to the poor living conditions his parents gave him, Michael was often living in foster homes and, sadly, living on the streets as well. He struggled with academic life, having failed two grades, and being moved from one school to the other constantly. Throughout the nine years Oher studied, he was a student at eleven different schools.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Zelevansky | Baltimore Ravens #23 draft pick Michael Oher poses for a photograph with his family at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft.


THE BIGGEST TURN OF HIS LIFE

At age 16, Michael Oher was taken in by Leigh Anne Tyohy and her husband, Sean. Giving the young boy a place to stay, he quickly became close to them, and the family ended becoming his legal guardians just one year later. Through the support of his new-found family, Oher started to excel in a field he didn’t expect.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Matthew Sharpe | Michael Oher #74 of the Ole Miss Rebels stands with his family during senior ceremonies prior to a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

As a junior in school, Michael became a prolific football player and, by the time he was a senior, he began playing for the varsity football team. The love and support he received from his family led him to become one of the most wanted football players in Tennessee and allowed him to receive several scholarships from Division 1 schools.

Image Credits: Getty Images / George Gojkovich | Offensive lineman Michael Oher #74 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on from the field before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.


CHANGED FROM THAT MOMENT: WHAT HAPPENED TO OHER’S LIFE?

In 2003, Oher was named Division II (2A) Lineman of the Year in 2003, and First Team Tennessee All-State. Not only that, but he was also rated as a five-star recruit and the No. 5 offensive lineman prospect in the country. The year after would become one of his most successful of his career. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Scott Cunningham | Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers watches play against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game.

Having become a very well-known player, Oher received first-team All-America honors from USA Today, as well as was given the chance to play in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl. After accepting a scholarship to attend the University of Mississippi, he played eleven games with this team, being recognized twice as first-team Freshman, for All-America, and for All-SEC.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Donna Svennevik / Walt Disney Television | Michael Oher of The Baltimore Ravens.


THE SUCCESS OF THE MID-2000’S

Being recognized for his amazing plays in 2005, Michael Oher did not stop to impress in the years ahead. He quickly became a breakout star once he moved to the position of left tackle, and that same year he was once again rewarded with second-team All-SEC.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Grant Halverson | Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers looks over the defense of the Miami Dolphins during their preseason NFL game.

This was also at the same time that the biographic book about Michael Oher was released, in which the author, Michael Lewis, described the player’s rocky beginnings. In 2009, the book was made into a movie called “The Blind Side”, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Motion Picture.

Image Credits: Youtube / Movieclips Classic Trailers


THE CAST: WHO BROUGHT REAL LIFE INTO THE SCREEN?

One of the most impressive things about the movie “The Blind Side” was how perfectly the cast was selected. Counting with names such as Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, and Nick Saban, the performance of these actors provided the audiences with something they weren’t expecting: heartfelt emotion.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin | Director John Lee Hancock, actor Quinton Aaron, actress Sandra Bullock, actor Jae Head, actor/musician Tim McGraw and actress Lily Collins attend the premiere of "The Blind Side".

Critics and viewers alike were quick to express their positive opinions about the movie. Quickly becoming a success, “The Blind Side” grossed $34.5 million in its opening weekend and nearly $256 million by the time it stopped being shown in the USA. It was a very successful movie and there was one person in particular that made that possible.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin | Actress Kim Dickens, Sean Tuohy Jr., Leigh Anne Tuohy, director John Lee Hancock, actor Quinton Aaron, actor Jae Head, actress Sandra Bullock, actor/musician Tim McGraw, actress Lily Collins, Collins Tuohy and Sean Tuohy attend the premiere of "The Blind Side".


WHAT DID THE CRITICS HAVE TO SAY?

Even though there are mixed feelings from the online critics, one thing that they seem to have in common is their appreciation for Sandra Bullock’s performance as Leigh Anne, the woman who helped Michael Oher become who he is today.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Merritt | Actress Sandra Bullock, winner Best Actress award for "The Blind Side," poses in the press room at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

The New York Times reported that “Ms. Bullock is convincing enough as an energetic, multitasking woman of the New South, who knows her own mind and usually gets her own way,” however, not all critics had such good things to say about the movie and actors, and one of them was Michael Oher himself.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox | Michael Oher #74 of the Baltimore Ravens.


THE BIGGEST CRITIC OF THEM ALL: OHER’S OPINION

Michael Oher has since commented that he was not impressed with the movie, stating that the overall feeling he got when watching his own life play on the screen was that it was a poor representation of what he had gone through. In fact, Oher went as far as mentioning that the movie did more damage than good.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Joe Robbins | Michael Oher #74 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Being played by Quinton Aaron, Michael Oher did not dislike his performance in general, but did feel that the actor was not depicting the real “Big Mike”. It has been reported that the portrayal of Michael Oher in the movie did not match his real-life personality but, instead, represented him as an anti-social and reserved person.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Skip Bolen / WireImage | Actor Quinton Aaron and actress Sandra Bullock attend "The Blind Side" benefit premiere.


WHAT WAS WRONG IN THE MOVIE?

His personality was not the only thing that was off in the movie, especially because Oher admitted that he did everything to excel at this career in football, but that he did that with excitement and a smile on his face.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett | Michael Oher #74 of the Baltimore Ravens.

While it depicted the difficulties that Oher went through in his life, there were many important details that were left out of the script. Nevertheless, these were not the only issues that Oher found in the movie, he has shared his thoughts in his book, “I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side, and Beyond”.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Donna Svennevik / Walt Disney Television | Michael Oher (author, I Beat the Odds) appeared today on "The View."


I BEAT THE ODDS: FROM HOMELESSNESS TO THE BLIND SIDE, AND BEYOND

Oher mentioned that "I felt like it [the movie] portrayed me as dumb instead of as a kid who had never had consistent academic instruction and ended up thriving once he got it." According to the player, the actor Quinton Aaron did a very good job in his role, however, the director himself was lacking.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann | Michael Oher #74 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

In the book, Oher continued explaining that he didn’t understand why the movie’s director opted to showcase Oher as someone who didn’t know how to play football, especially because he had “been studying — really studying — the game since [he] was a kid!” This ended up being one of the most problematic parts of the movie for Oher.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Sean Gardner | Michael Oher #72 of the Tennessee Titans reacts to a play during a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.


THE ISSUES THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THE MOVIE

Another main issue that has been discussed since the movie was released was the racial issues that were depicted in it. From the common negative stereotypes to the phenomenon of the “complex”, many critics have commented that the movie took what was from Oher’s own device and gave it to Bullock’s character.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin | Actress Sandra Bullock attends the premiere of "The Blind Side".

From the movie’s description of the black individuals to the lack of any attempt to give Oher’s credit for his own achievements, this movie has failed to be a voice for the main character. Focusing on the white middle-class woman who saved him instead, it perpetuates a genre that is far too common.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Skip Bolen / WireImage | Actress Sandra Bullock with American professional football player Michael Oher's adoptive parent Leigh Anne Tuohy attend "The Blind Side" benefit premiere.


THE AFTERMATH OF THE MOVIE: THE IMPACT ON OHER’S LIFE

Along with the money that this movie profited, came the Academy Award for Best Actress for Sandra Bullock, and a lot of problems for Michael Oher himself. The player, who has since retired, shared that "I'm not trying to prove anything... People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ned Dishman | Offensive lineman Michael Oher #74 of the Baltimore Ravens.

According to him, the movie stopped him from becoming who he wanted to be, as people saw his own life ill-represented in the movie and stopped analyzing his skills and what type of player he is. Michael stated that he doesn’t like the movie as it has taken so much from him, especially in terms of his football career.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Joe Robbins | Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers looks on during a preseason NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Starting life as an underdog, Oher’s career developed with the help of the Tyohy’s family, however, but not solely because of it. Michael Oher had the skills and talent to become the professional football player he was and, in fact, perhaps he didn’t manage to go further because of the movie itself. What is your opinion about “The Blind Side”? Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts were when watching the movie, and make sure to share this story with your friends!

ⓘ The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on, or available through this ENG.AMOMAMA.COM is for general information purposes only. ENG.AMOMAMA.COM does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.

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