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A lot of people who had a rough childhood end up not being able to make anything laudable out of their lives as adults, but that is far from the case with Michael Oher. He did not have a normal family and as such, suffered a lot of instability in various areas of his life as a child, including his education as he had to repeat first and second grades too many times that he lost count.
As a result of the issues in his family, Michael was sent off to live in foster homes at the age of seven and he alternated between living in different foster homes and being homeless. Consequently, by the time he was nine years old, he had attended eleven different schools.
Despite having a lot of excuses to settle for mediocrity, he vehemently pursued his dream of becoming a professional American footballer. Today, he is popular as an offensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL).
Details of Michael Oher’s Career Journey
Michael’s journey to stardom as a professional football player dates back to his freshman year at a public high school in Memphis. While there, he sought to make his dreams of becoming a professional footballer a reality by applying for admission to Briarcrest Christian School with support from Tony Henderson, an auto mechanic who used to provide him with food and shelter from time to time. He eventually made it into the school and joined the football team under its offensive line coaches, Freeze and Tim Long. Thanks to his talent, he became the Division II (2A) Lineman of the Year in 2003 and was named to First Team Tennessee All-State.
All these while, Michael Oher had been living with different foster homes but the course of his life took a new turn when he was invited by Leigh Anne and Sean Touhy in 2004 to live with them together with their children. The couple got to know Michael through their son and daughter who were also students of Briarcrest. Thankfully, they subsequently adopted him, giving him the stability he needed to thrive. With his new dad (Sean Touhy) being a former footballer himself, the family deemed it fit to hire a tutor for Michael who would train him for 20 hours a week.
While in Briarcrest, Michael had very low grades which were at first a hindrance to his acceptance into a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) program. However, he was so determined to achieve his goal that he worked very hard to increase his grade point average (GPA). His efforts paid off as his GPA rose from 0.76 to 2.52 by the time he was done with his senior year. This gave him an opportunity to study in a Division I school: he enrolled for some Internet-based courses with Brigham Young University which lasted for a week and three days. Passing the online courses finally paved a way for Michael to replace the Ds and Fs he earned earlier, thereby qualifying him for an NCAA program.
The Exploits of His College Career
Having received football scholarship offers from six colleges, he decided to settle for the University of Mississippi, where his guardians graduated from. There, he played for the Ole Miss Rebels and received a number of honors, including First Team Freshman All-American, First Team All-Quad Freshman Chrome [AQFC] Tackle Letius, and First Team SEC All-Freshman, all in 2005. The following year, he earned Second Team All-SEC and in 2007, he was named to First Team All-SEC.
In January 2008, Michael declared that he would forgo the remaining year of his college career in favor of that year’s NFL draft. Two days later, he announced that he rescinded his decision and went back to Ole Miss to finish his senior season. That same year, he earned First Team All-American, First Team All-SEC, Shug Jordan Southeast Offensive Lineman of the Year Award, Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik Leadership-Scholarship Award, SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, and more. He graduated the following year with a degree in criminal justice.
Highlights of Michael’s Professional Career
Having joined the 2009 NFL draft, Michael Oher was selected in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens with the 23rd pick and on the 30th of July 2009, he signed a $13.8 million contract with the team. He continued with the Ravens until 2013, earning the second spot in the voting for Associated Press’ NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Also, he won his first Super Bowl ring in 2013 following the victory of the team against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Moving to the Tennessee Titans, Oher signed a four-year deal worth $20 million with the team but was unable to put his talent to full use due to a toe injury that led to him being placed on injured reserve. For the same reason, Michael Oher was released by the Titan on February 5, 2015. Prior to his release, Pro Football Focus rated him 74th out of 78 best tackles for the 2014 season.
On March 6, 2015, the Carolina Panthers signed Michael to a two-year $7 million contract. The deal was subsequently extended by three years for $21.6 million with $9.5 million guaranteed. Sadly, Oher suffered a concussion on November 25, 2016, and was placed on injured reserve. He was cut loose by the Panthers in 2017 after he failed a physical test.
What We Know About Michael Oher’s Family
The former professional footballer is the biological son of Michael Jerome Williams and Denise Oher. He hardly received any form of care from his father who was always in-and-out of prison and was eventually murdered there when Michael was in senior high. Michael’s mother led no better life than his father. She is an alcoholic and a crack cocaine addict but for many years now, she has been trying hard to overcome it.
Michael was born into a large family; he has 8 half-brothers, 2 half-sisters, and a sister named Denise after their mother. However, it seems he is not close to his siblings.
Michael Oher’s adoptive parents (Sean Albro Tuohy Sr. and Leigh Anne Tuohy) were the force behind a major part of the progress he recorded in his life as they contributed a lot to transform him from a nomadic teen without a sense of direction into an accomplished professional footballer. The couple got married in 1982 and while Sean works as a sportscaster and also owns a restaurant, his wife works as an interior designer. She participated in the television show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The duo co-owns various fast food restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They also co-wrote a book titled In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, which became a bestseller.
By reason of his adoption, he earned a sister named Collins Tuohy, a popular actress/public speaker and a brother named Sean Tuohy Jr., the assistant to Head Coach for Arkansas Razorbacks Football team.