Michael Oher

Earliest Memory

Michael was only two years old, he figures. He and his brothers were walking along a dangerous highway with no adults. Oher has no idea where he is going or why he is there. He doesn’t remember when he arrived at his destination. This is the earliest memory of his life. Michael still sees the cars speeding by in the back of his mind.

Childhood and Education

Michael Jerome Oher was born to his mother Denise Oher on May 28, 1986. Michael never knew his father. He, his mom, and about 13 other siblings lived in the worst part of Memphis, Tennessee. Denise was a crack cocaine addict since his birth.  The siblings began to separate; some went to foster homes, some stayed with friends, and others lived on the streets. Michael lived at all of these places and more. For the most part, he was homeless. He also wasn’t very smart because he received little help from his mom and others. Oher attended 11 schools in 9 years. He repeated the 1st and 2nd grade. Although Michael wasn’t the smartest kid; he understood what was going on around, listened to the teachers, and was an excellent writer.
 Eventually Michael made it into high school. He attended a public school in Memphis. He was a natural athlete at his school. Michael was an outstanding basketball player and football player. During high school Michael was staying with a man named Tony Henderson and his son Steven. Michael was sleeping on Tony’s couch. Around this time is when Oher was given his nickname Big Mike, but secretly he didn’t like the name. Since Tony was going to enroll Steven into a private Christian school because of his grandmother’s wishes; Tony decided to try to enroll Big Mike in the school as well. The name of this private Christian school is Briarcrest Christian School. The school's football coach submitted Oher's school application to the headmaster, who agreed if Oher could complete a home study program first. Despite not finishing the program, he was admitted when the headmaster realized that his actions had the consequence of having removed him from the public education system. Finally Michael was attending a good high school, but his struggles continued.

Michael didn’t always stay at Tony’s house. Most of the time he wandered the streets, but he also went to the school’s gym to keep warm. Michael had only the clothes on his back and no money. One night is when everything turned around. Michael was walking to the gym when Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy noticed Big Mike walking alone on a cold night. Being a good Christian Leigh Anne decided to let Big Mike stay at their house for the night. That night turned into days, then months, then eventually years. Later the Touhys officially adopted Michael Oher. Michael went to school with Sean and Leigh Anne’s daughter Collins and their son SJ, who Michael became really close with.

At Briarcrest Christian School, Michael played football and became a star. He was the left tackle on the offensive line. His job was to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Michael was one of the best offensive linemen in all of Tennessee. SJ sent film of Michael’s performance to college coaches. He was destined to become a great college player, but only one thing was holding him back. That one thing was his Grade Point Average. He had a .6 GPA and was averaging D’s and F’s in his classes. The Tuohys hired a tutor for Michael in order to get his GPA up to a 2.5, so he can go to a Division I college. Luckily Michael got his GPA up to a 2.52.