One of the NFL players in Sunday’s big game is very special, indeed.
Michael Oher, an offensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers, is playing in his second Super Bowl this Sunday evening. However, it’s a far different experience from the life he once lived, a life when he was incredibly enough a homeless teen living in Memphis, Tennessee. Michael’s incredible triumph and rags-to-riches struggle translated into a life that is so inspiring it became the basis for both the book and film versions of “The Blind Side.”
The Blind Side
As fans of the movie and book “The Blind Side” are aware, Michael had a very challenging childhood. He came from a home that wasn’t safe and secure—he was, in fact, living in a state of strife, both in crime-riddled projects, and for a brief time even homeless as a teen growing up in Memphis, Tennessee.
The large and loving teen was constantly moved from one foster home to another. Leigh Anne Tuohy, her husband Sean and her family (son Sean J and daughter Collins) took him in all while encouraging his love of football. It was through their special relationship that Michael learned how to be part of a warm, loving family and also how to play a mean game of football.
He became so good that, after his college years, he was the first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens shortly after graduating in 2009. The journey soon turned into magical tale, a rags-to-riches true story that stole the nation’s hearts and even won talented actress Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne.
The family who raised Michael loves the way “The Blind Side” encapsulates their special bond.
As Leigh Anne explained it to Today, “It’s a great movie. We were really pleased. The fact of the matter is, everyone has a story, and ours just happens to be the one that was told. When people see this movie, they realize there are other Michael Ohers out there who can make something of their lives if someone just turns around and asks how they can help.”
After “The Blind Side” Ends
After the teen years covered in the book and movie iterations of “The Blind Side,” Michael continued on to greatness. Michael, an ace on the football field thanks to his special bond with his foster family, spread his wings. He became a professional offensive lineman, playing both for the Baltimore Ravens (who initially drafted him) before moving on to the Tennessee Titans. It is through his time with the Ravens that he got to play in his first Super Bowl game, as the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in 2013’s big game.
On Sunday, Feb. 7, Michael will take the field once again, this time taking the field with the Panthers, one of the youngest teams in the NFL. It’s an inspiring story and a true one at that. But if that isn’t enough to make you inspired, what about this, Michael’s own thoughts on his unlikely success:
“Don’t ever allow yourself to feel trapped by your choices. Take a look at yourself. You are a unique person created for a specific purpose. Your gifts matter. Your story matters. Your dreams matter. You matter.”
― Michael Oher, I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond
The heart of a man who has overcome so much to see such an incredible journey realized must be very big, indeed: offensive lineman kind of big. Good luck on Sunday to Michael, the Panthers, and those who dream big no matter what the circumstances.