Michael Oher-From Foster Child To Top NFL Draft Prospect

Published on April 24, 2009 by     

michael-oherMichael Oher has been here before. He was a tourist, about seven years old, as best he can recall.

“My foster parents took me,” he said.

I ask how many foster homes he’d been in.

“About three or four,” he says. “Something like that.”

His arrival today, for a pre-draft briefing at the Times Square Westin, is more triumphant than anything that 7-year-old foster child could have imagined. Oher is wearing a Yankees cap, and I find myself wondering if it’s a sign of allegiance, or merely a fashion statement.

“They were always on TV,” says Oher, explaining his rooting interest.

In other words, when you’re a kid living place to place, which is to say, no place at all, the team on national television affords you some consistency, maybe even something to believe in.

“Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, I liked all them guys,” he says. Then, Oher’s eyes narrow, raising a furrow across his brow. It’s an arch expression, playful, but with a hint of the menace that awaits opponents on the other side of the ball.

“You thought I was just playing?” he drawls.

Michael Oher isn’t playing. He’s 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, and still relatively svelte around the middle. He possesses in abundance what the pro scouts covet in first-round left tackles — that uncanny amalgam of nimble ferocity. He can pancake a state of the art defensive end. He can throw a fastball. He can dunk, any which way. “I can do it all,” he says of his basketball prowess. “I’m going to blow out a rim.”

Still, athletic ability isn’t what makes Michael Oher unique. “There’s people in my neighborhood,” he says, “that had a lot more talent than me.”

Back in the Memphis neighborhood to which he was born, Oher was just another lost child, one of 13 siblings. His biological father was murdered. His mother was a crack addict. Until he was 16, he lacked a permanent address.

How did you eat, I ask.

“You did whatever you could,” he says. “Whatever you could.”

“Yeah, but . . .”

“Churches. Community centers, stuff like that.”

“The worst place you slept?”

“I don’t know. A porch?”

At 16, quite accidentally, Oher arrived at Briarcrest Christian School, and by turns described in Michael

Lewis’ bestseller, The Blind Side, eventually found himself adopted by the well-to-do family of Sean and Lee Anne Touhy. They gave him a home, a tutor, a chance and still more.

Asked what hurts the most about living on the streets, Oher says, “not having somebody to take care of you, to be there for you, to tuck you in at night.”

To tuck you in.

That’s the real saving grace of Michael Oher. It’s not his vertical, or his bench, or anything that can be quantified in the combine. Rather, what survived against all odds on the streets of Memphis, was a capacity to love and be loved. To be tucked in.

“For them to take me in with open arms,” he says of the Touhys, “that just shows you the kind of heart they have. Where I come from, you don’t do anything like that.”

I wonder where he’d be if not for his chance admission to Briarcrest or the Touhys.

“That’s a good question,” he says. “I don’t know. I’m very determined in everything I do. But meeting my family made the road a lot easier.”

What a concept: meeting my family.

He has two siblings in attendance here at the draft. There’s his dreadlocked biological brother, Marcus, and his blond sister, Collins. Collins and Michael attended Ole Miss, where he will graduate in a couple of weeks with a degree in criminal justice.

Why criminal justice, I ask.

“To take the innocent from the bad guys,” he says.

To save them, he means.

For the record, Oher finally read The Blind Side about a month ago. “It was all right,” he says. “It had a few things that probably made me look like I wasn’t smart . . . But people got to sell books.”

I don’t think that’s the case. To my mind, Lewis’ book is a near perfect synthesis of analysis and narrative. And while it provides readers several ways to consider Michael Oher, not smart is not among them.

There’s still a day and a half before the draft. According to Oher, the team that picks another offensive lineman is a team that’s making a mistake.

“If you do, I don’t understand,” he says. “I know I’m the best. I play in the best conference. Every Saturday. Every snap. All you got to do is watch film.”

He hasn’t allowed a sack since 2007. “I just have a passion for it, shutting down that elite pass rusher,” he says. “Every year, it seems like these guys are evolving into another monster. I just shut ’em down.”

He leans in; his eyes narrow. I imagine this is what he looks like to his opponents, as seen up close, through the bars of a face mask.

I step back. Then I find myself wanting to cheer — for Michael Oher, of course, but also for all those kids who have yet to meet their families.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (2)

  1. greg says:

    great story guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

20120730_seahawks_0099

A third-round pick as the starting Quarterback? The training camp decision that changed everything

When Russell Wilson showed up at rookie minicamp in May of 2012, he was impressive enough that, after ...
_dsc4504

Keenan Lambert looking to be bigger than little brother to Kam Chancellor

There was a time not too long ago when Keenan Lambert went out of his way to avoid ...
cst_3w4c0158

Nine Things We Learned From Coach Pete Carroll At Seahawks Minicamp

Key takeaways from Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll's post-minicamp press conference on Thursday, June 18 at Renton's Virginia ...
150526-sherman

10 Things We Learned From Day 1 Of Seahawks OTAs

Key takeaways from Day 1 of Seattle's Organized Team Activities. The Seahawks held their first set of Organized Team ...
Seahawks  Russell Wilson Show Support During Cliff Avril  Jimmy Graham Losses   Seattle Seahawks.jp

Seahawks, Russell Wilson Show Support During Cliff Avril, Jimmy Graham Losses

The trio was tending to personal matters during Tuesday's voluntary workouts. Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, tight end Jimmy ...
i

Seattle Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin says he’ll be playing for Atlanta Falcons in 2016

Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin says he will be playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016."I'm going ...
470910296

Baldwin: Lynch will be more devastating with Graham

When the Seattle Seahawks traded for tight end Jimmy Graham, it marked a bold move that imported a ...
9EluR.AuSt.5

Tyler Lockett was star of Seahawks’ rookie minicamp

Sure, it’s only May. But there was a star shining as brightly as the brilliant Northwest sun in ...

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com

lat-noise-wre0011368363-20130915

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz