'The Blind Side': How Michael Oher Made It


"It was a big difference, you know?" he said. "Everybody looked alike for the first couple of weeks."

There was a warm welcome and a serious reality. Oher's grades were about as low as they could go.

"It was like I was starting school in the 10th grade, because all the material that I was receiving was new to me," said Oher. "You know, I'd never even heard of a lot of this stuff."

"So that's when we kind of implemented Team Oher," said Leigh Anne Tuohy. "It was like, 'OK, this is going to take a whole village to do this.'"

Most who knew Oher were convinced that his poor grades and low IQ scores reflected a lack of opportunity, not intelligence.

"I always felt that I was, you know, smart," said Oher. "I just didn't have a lot of the resources that everybody else had. ... It was tough for me to catch up."

Oher said he was undaunted despite the enormity of the task.

"I wasn't terrified because, you know, I knew I was going to try my best and give it my all," he said.

Collins Tuohy said Oher was ready to learn.

"He wasn't in need of academic help because he was already a very intelligent person," she said. "He was in need of the tools to put all that intelligence together."

Sean Sr. agreed.

"He was determined to be at the level where everybody else was," he said.

It was like Oher was in training.

"There [are] seven periods in a day, he had eight classes," recalled Leigh Anne Tuohy. "He had to go at 6 o'clock in the morning before school to take a class -- I mean, that's how far he had to go."

Collins Tuohy, an honors student at Briarcrest, was in the same grade as Oher. She rearranged her schedule so that the two would share some classes.

"Collins would come in, you know, every afternoon and she would tell me what the assignments were," said Leigh Anne Tuohy. "So I would usually know 'em before he hit the door."

Suddenly, the high school sophomore was working overtime with Oher.

"I sat ... with him," said Collins Tuohy. "That was the most studying I've ever done in my life--ever. I was kind of like, 'Whoa, what's going on here?' I went from doing my two hours, now I'm here seven hours on the table. ... It was, it was just very clear that it had to be a team effort."

At times Michael became frustrated.

"He came home and said, 'I can't do it. I just can't do it,'" said Sean Sr. "Well, I go, 'Well, OK. Well, that's all right.' You know, I mean, 'cause I am ... I couldn't do it either. And she goes, 'Nope. Sit your butt down. We are not giving up. You are gonna do it.'" "It was tough for all of us," said Leigh Anne Tuohy.

So the family brought in reinforcements. Tutor Sue Mitchell began working with Michael. He soaked up information like a sponge, she said.

"We worked hours and hours every day," said Mitchell. "He would come home. He'd take a shower and we would work till at least 11:30 every night. And we did this six nights a week."

Sean Jr. remembered Oher's intensity.

"When I went to bed at 10, and he's -- I'd wake up at two, and he would still be studying downstairs with tutors," he said. "He never had any time off, and I can't even imagine me being in high school now and me even thinking about doing that."

Mitchell said Sean Jr. offered encouragement.

"When Michael might be getting a little bit tired or ready to quit for the night, Sean was so good about coming back and putting his arm around him and telling him, you know, 'You can do it,'" said Mitchell.

Oher: 'It Was Unbelievable' to Graduate

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