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Biographical sports films are nothing new to the industry and often follow the lives of either a specific player, the team as a whole, or the coach fighting for their team. These films and biopics cover a range of sports like wrestling, football, basketball, and just about everything in between. Oftentimes, they star big names like Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans, Will Smith in Concussion, Samuel L. Jackson in Coach Carter, and Florence Pugh as wrestler Paige in Fighting with My Family. These films often highlight the protagonists’ personal struggles, and the struggle of reaching their ultimate goal, which varies from film to film.
And former NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher is one who had his life chronicled in a film with some big Hollywood names attached to it. The Blind Side is seen as a touching tale of overcoming adversity through the kindness and help of outside influences, but Oher has been quick to point out that the film didn’t get everything right.
Michael Oher Did Have A Rough Start In Life
Michael Oher, born Michael Jerome Williams Jr., had an incredibly rough start to his life. Oher is one of twelve children born to a mother that suffered from addiction and a father that was in and out of prison.
As a child, he attended several schools and eventually was placed into foster care.
Oher began playing football in high school during his freshman year. At the suggestion of a mechanic he was living with at the time, he applied to Briarcrest Christian School. The headmaster agreed to accept Oher as long as he participated in a home study program first.
Even without completion of the home study program, the headmaster accepted Oher into the school, where he continued to play football on their team and continued to bounce around between several foster homes. His life changed in 2004 when he met Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy.
The Tuohys’ children were in attendance at Briarcrest academy when they met Oher. The family ended up taking Oher in to live with them and eventually adopted him out of the foster care system while also providing him a tutor for the benefit of his education.
Michael Oher continued to better his education and started getting scholarship offers from several universities, opting to play for the University of Mississippi in honor of the Tuohys. By 2008, Oher was seen as one of the top potential prospects for the following year’s NFL draft.
And Oher was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, a team he played on from 2009 through 2013 before signing a contract with the Tennessee Titans. He only stayed on that team for a year before he was released, and then signed on with the Carolina Panthers.
He stayed with them for two years before he was released after failing a physical.
The Blind Side Took Creative License With Oher’s Story
While most may know The Blind Side as a hit film starring Sandra Bullock, it was actually originally a book written in 2006 by Michael Lewis called The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. The book has two storylines, one of which is based on Michael Oher.
Lewis essentially details Oher’s life from his adoption by the Tuohys all the way through his college football career.
The film was released in 2009 and focused solely on the story of Michael Oher and the Tuohy family and has some incredible star power attached to it.
Sandra Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy alongside Time McGraw as Sean Tuohy. Their kids Collins and S.J. are portrayed by Lily Collins and Jae Head, respectively. Michael Oher was portrayed by Quinton Aaron, who was unknown to Hollywood at the time.
Similar to the book, The Blind Side details portions of Michael Oher’s early life, through the adoption by the Tuohys. The film also follows the footballer’s life through getting drafted by the NFL but places a heavy focus on the relationship between Michael and the family that went on to adopt him.
The Blind Side was wildly successful in theaters, making $34,119,372 during its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, and grossing a total of $309,231,649 at the box office worldwide, and is seen as one of Sandra Bullock’s best films, according to fans.
Oher Wrote A Book To Correct Misinformation
While The Blind Side became an Academy Award-nominated film, Michael Oher has some issues with the way the film portrayed certain aspects of his life. Oher alleges that the film does not accurately represent his life, and may be doing more harm than good in that regard.
For one, the film did not detail much of his life prior to his encounter with the Tuohys, and also seemed to rush the relationship between Oher and the family when the connection built between them was much slower.
According to Oher, the film also shows him as a bit more shy and meek, when he is the opposite of that in real life. The Blind Side also failed to detail the hardships Oher went through while attending Briarcrest, a primarily white high school.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences in the film is the insinuation that Leigh Ann Tuohy got Oher into sports and through their bond, he grew to love football.
The reality is that Oher had been playing football before he met the Tuohy family, and had actively participated in other sports as well, another detail left out of the film.
Oher feels that the film left out a lot of the hard work and effort he had put in himself to build his career, something he believes makes others view him as less valuable than other NFL players. Because of this, Michael Oher took action and wrote his own book detailing his life story from his point of view.
I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond helps to paint a more detailed picture of Oher’s life, starting in childhood and talks about all the details the film either left out or changed, and how the events really went down.