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Michael Oher

Michael Oher
Oher with the Ravens in August 2009
No. 73 Carolina Panthers
Position: Offensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1986-05-28) May 28, 1986
Place of birth: Memphis, Tennessee
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 315 lb (143 kg)
Career information
High school: Memphis (TN) Briarcrest
College: Mississippi
NFL draft: 2009 / Round: 1 / Pick: 23
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 4, 2015
Games played: 95
Games started: 95
Stats at

Michael Jerome Oher (US pronunciation: ; born May 28, 1986) is an American football offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft and has also played for the Tennessee Titans. He played college football for the University of Mississippi.

Oher earned unanimous All-American honors at Mississippi, and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. His life through his final year of high school and first year of college is one of the subjects of Michael Lewis' 2006 book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and was featured in the Academy Award-winning 2009 film The Blind Side.


  • Early life 1
  • College career 2
    • College awards and honors 2.1
  • Professional career 3
    • 2009 NFL Draft 3.1
    • Baltimore Ravens 3.2
    • Tennessee Titans 3.3
    • Carolina Panthers 3.4
  • Books 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Born Michael Jerome Williams, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee, he was one of 12 children born to Denise Oher. His mother was an alcoholic and crack cocaine addict, and his father, Michael Jerome Williams, was frequently in prison. Due to his upbringing, he received little attention and discipline during his childhood.[1] He repeated both first and second grades, and attended eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student.[1] He was placed in foster care at age seven, and alternated between living in various foster homes and periods of homelessness.[1][2] Oher's biological father was a former cell mate of Denise Oher's brother and was murdered in prison when Oher was a senior in high school.[1]

Oher played football during his freshman year at a public high school in Memphis and applied for admission to Briarcrest Christian School at the instigation of acquaintance Tony Henderson, an auto mechanic, with whom he was living temporarily. Henderson was enrolling his son at the school in order to fulfill the dying wish of the boy's grandmother and thought Oher might enroll as well.[1] The school's football coach, Hugh Freeze, submitted Oher's school application to the headmaster, who agreed to accept him if Oher could complete a home study program first. Despite not finishing the program, he was admitted when the headmaster realized that his requirement had removed Oher from the public education system.[1]

Coached by Freeze and Tim Long, Briarcrest's offensive line coach, Oher was named Division II (2A) Lineman of the Year in 2003, and First Team Tennessee All-State.[1][3] rated Oher a five-star recruit and the No. 5 offensive lineman prospect in the country.[4] Before that season and for his prior 20 months at Briarcrest, Oher had been living with several foster families. In 2004, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, a couple with a daughter and son attending Briarcrest, allowed Oher to live with them and eventually adopted him. The family began tending to his needs after becoming familiar with his difficult childhood. They also hired a tutor for him, who worked with him for 20 hours per week.[1]

Oher also earned two letters each in track and basketball. He averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds a game, earning All-State honors by helping lead the basketball team to a 27–6 record, winning the district championship as a senior. Oher was also a state runner-up in the discus as a senior.[5]

Oher's low grades were initially a barrier to his acceptance to an NCAA program. He eventually increased his 0.76 grade point average (GPA) to a 2.52 GPA by the end of his senior year so he could attend a Division I school by enrolling in some 10-day-long internet-based courses from Brigham Young University. Taking and passing the internet courses allowed him to replace Ds and Fs earned in earlier school classes, such as English, with As earned via the internet.[6] This finally raised his graduating GPA over the required minimum.[1]

College career

Though he received scholarship offers from University of Mississippi, the alma mater of his guardians, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy.[7] His decision to play for the Ole Miss Rebels football team sparked an investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The first issue was that Oher's grade-point average (GPA) was still too low to meet the requirements for a Division I scholarship at the time of the offer from Ole Miss. That difficulty was corrected by graduation, when Oher completed online classes through Brigham Young University.[1] The second issue was the Tuohys' preexisting relationship with the school and the fact that Ole Miss hired Freeze twenty days after Oher signed his letter of intent.[1][8] Freeze asserted that his position with Ole Miss was not an example of quid pro quo for encouraging Oher to attend the school, but rather the result of his preexisting relationship with Ole Miss offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.[9] The NCAA did not close its case on its suspicions of collusion. However, it ruled that Ole Miss had committed no NCAA violations in its recruitment of Oher. Freeze was found guilty of secondary violations for contacting other Memphis-area recruits before joining the Ole Miss staff.[1][8]

Oher started in ten games as a guard during his first season with the Ole Miss Rebels, becoming a first-team freshman All American. After shifting to the position of left tackle for the 2006 season, he was named to various preseason All-Conference and All-American teams.[10][11] Oher was named a second-team Southeastern Conference (SEC) offensive lineman after his sophomore season and a first-team SEC offensive lineman after his junior season. Oher was also successful academically at Ole Miss, and his tested IQ score increased 20 to 30 points between when he was measured in the public-school systems growing up and when he was measured in college.[1]

On January 14, 2008, Oher declared that he would be entering the 2008 NFL Draft.[12] However, two days later, he announced his withdrawal from the draft to return to Ole Miss for his senior season.[13] After the 2008 season, Oher was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American,[14] made the honor roll for the second time (the first time being his sophomore year),[15][16] and graduated with a degree in criminal justice in the spring of 2009.[17]

College awards and honors

  • 2005 First Team Freshman All-American
  • 2005 First Team All-Quad Freshman Chrome [AQFC] Tackle Letius
  • 2005 First Team SEC All-Freshman
  • 2006 Second Team All-SEC
  • 2007 First Team All-SEC
  • 2008 First Team All-American
  • 2008 First Team All-SEC
  • 2008 Shug Jordan Award as the Southeast Offensive Lineman of the Year
  • 2008 Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik Leadership-Scholarship Award
  • 2008 Outland Trophy finalist
  • 2008 Conerly Trophy finalist
  • 2008 Lombardi Award semifinalist
  • 2008 SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy

Professional career

2009 NFL Draft

Already in 2008, Oher was projected as one of the top prospects for the 2009 NFL Draft.[18] The Baltimore Ravens drafted Oher with the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. The Ravens had acquired the pick from the New England Patriots in exchange for their first- and fifth-round draft picks. The Tuohy family was there to witness his draft day selection.

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 4⅜ in 309 lb 5.34 s 1.78 s 3.03 s 4.60 s 7.83 s 30½ in 8 ft 7 in 21 reps 19
All values from NFL Combine[19]

Baltimore Ravens

On April 26, 2009, he was assigned the No. 74 jersey,[20] which was his jersey number at Ole Miss. On July 30, 2009, he signed a five-year, $13.8 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens.[21] He started the 2009 season as right tackle, but was moved to left tackle after an injury to lineman Jared Gaither. In week eight, he returned to right tackle.

Oher started every game in 2009, 11 at right tackle and five at left tackle. He played right tackle in his first post-season game, January 10, 2010, against the New England Patriots, and did not allow a single sack as the Ravens won 33–14.

Michael Oher was second in the voting for Associated Press' NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, with six votes.

Prior to the 2010 NFL season, Oher was moved to left tackle.[22] During the 2011 pre-season, the Ravens announced that Oher would be moving back to the right side. On February 3, 2013, Oher won his first Super Bowl ring after the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

Tennessee Titans

Oher with the Tennessee Titans, 2014

On March 14, 2014, Oher signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.[23] Oher started 11 games for the Titans, and was placed on injured reserve on December 13 after missing the previous two games due to a toe injury. Pro Football Focus graded Oher as the 74th best tackle out of 78 for the 2014 season.[24] The Titans released Oher on February 5, 2015.[25]

Carolina Panthers

On March 6, 2015, Oher signed a two-year $7 million contract with the Carolina Panthers and Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said that Oher would be the Panthers starting left tackle going into the season despite his struggles in Tennessee saying "We did our homework on Michael, and we feel very strongly that he can be an answer for us," Gettleman said. "He'll be inserted at left tackle, and we'll go from there."[26][27]


Oher is one of the subjects of Michael Lewis's 2006 book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. Before the book was published, excerpts appeared in The New York Times Magazine as "The Ballad of Big Mike".[1] His portion of the book was adapted for film and was directed by John Lee Hancock.[28] It was released in the United States on November 20, 2009. The movie stars Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, alongside Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Actress for Bullock. Bullock won an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy.

Oher wrote his autobiography, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond, in 2011.[29][30] His coauthor, Don Yaeger, has co-written a number of other sports biographies, including those of Walter Payton, Warrick Dunn, and former Duke Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler.

The Tuohys are the co-authors of the book, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, which tells the story in their own words, and was released in 2010.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n  
  2. ^ Michael Oher . . . his life and football career at Michael Oher fan site (September 9, 2010)
  3. ^ " Michael Oher is the top lineman out of Tennessee". March 30, 2004. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Michael Oher Profile". Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Michael Oher". Baltimore Ravens. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  6. ^ Scott Elliott (September 26, 2006). "Football and the magical GPA: An academic disgrace". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  7. ^ Hooker, Dave (November 5, 2004). "Ten talented recruits on UT's radar this weekend". The  
  8. ^ a b April 2009. "ESPN DB Draft Package". "Michael Oher's decision to sign with Ole Miss was investigated by the NCAA . . .". ESPN. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  9. ^ Hooker, Dave (January 17, 2005). "Oher's Ole Miss ties may be hard to break". The Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved October 4, 2006. 
  10. ^ Willis, Patrick (July 21, 2006). "Michael Oher named to Coaches All-SEC Football Team". The  
  11. ^ "2006 SEC Football – Week 5 Game Previews". September 26, 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2006. 
  12. ^ "Ole Miss LT Oher to enter NFL draft". The  
  13. ^ "Oher Reconsiders, Returns for Senior Season".—Official Web Site of University of Mississippi Athletics. January 16, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Laurinaitis, Bradford, Crabtree on All-America first team". ESPN. December 16, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  15. ^ Bell, Jarret (April 24, 2009). "From homeless to the NFL: Oher's journey to draft unique". USA Today. Retrieved November 20, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Perception not always reality for LT Michael Oher". WIBW. April 16, 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2009. 
  17. ^ Connolly, Dan (November 16, 2009). "Coming Attraction Not A Distraction".  
  18. ^ "Tony Pauline: Top prospects for 2009 NFL draft — - 2008 NFL Draft". CNN. April 29, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Michael Oher Draft Profile". April 2009. 
  20. ^ "Duffy's Draft Day 2 Blog". April 26, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  21. ^ Michael Oher contract details, NBC Sports, July 30, 2009, retrieved January 17, 2011 
  22. ^ La Canfora, Jason (May 7, 2010). "Ravens moving Oher to left tackle, sending Gaither to right side". NFL. 
  23. ^ Wilson, Aaron. "Ravens pay Chris Canty his scheduled $500,000 roster bonus". Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Titans put tackle Michael Oher on injured reserve". The Tennessean. December 13, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Titans release veteran tackle Michael Oher". The Tennessean. February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Michael Oher signs 2 year deal with the Panthers". 
  27. ^ "Ask Bryan: Free agent additions". Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  28. ^ "John Lee Hancock to Guard the Blind Side". (October 22, 2007). Retrieved on November 20, 2011.
  29. ^ "Book review: 'I Beat the Odds' by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  30. ^ "'"How The 'Blind Side' Kid 'Beat The Odds. February 9, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  31. ^ In a Heartbeat' highlights the bright side of the Tuohys"'".  

External links

  • Profile of Michael Oher and an excerpt from Michael Lewis's "The Blind Side" at
  • Carolisn Panthers bio
  • Tennessee Titans bio
  • Baltimore Ravens bio
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