How Michael Oher 'Beat the Odds'

PHOTO: "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond," by Michael Oher and Don Yaeger.
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Michael Oher, the NFL football player and the inspiration behind "The Blind Side," tells his story of triumph in a revealing memoir.

Read an excerpt from "I Beat the Odds" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library

Reaching Back

I felt myself breaking into a sweat as I walked up to the doors of the Department of Children's Services office, and it had nothing to do with the fact that it was summertime in Memphis. I never would have dreamed a dozen years ago that I would walk willingly up to those doors. To me, they seemed to stand for everything that had gone wrong in my childhood, every bad memory, every feeling of hopelessness and loneliness and fear. And now I was headed inside.

It was a different office from the one I remembered. The big state government building downtown was the one that always stayed in my mind, and that was where I thought I was headed until the directions I'd been given had me turn into an old strip mall lined with a payday advance center, a grocery store, and a lot of potholes in the parking lot. I'd driven past this shopping center I don't know how many times in my life and had never really paid that close attention to what all was there. That afternoon in July, as I drove up for my appointment, I just circled past the stores in my car, looking for a place to turn back out onto the road because I knew the directions had to be wrong. But then I saw the familiar DCS logo on the glass door toward the end of the mall and I knew I was in the right place.

Suddenly, I lost about three feet and two hundred pounds and became a scared little kid again. I was a few minutes early, but I was ready for this to happen. There was no use sitting in my car to kill that time. I had come here as part of my work to write this book and I had an appointment to meet, for the first time in my adult life, the woman who spent years as the state's caseworker on my file. I needed to go in while I still had the nerve, so I parked and walked to the building, past all the other cars parked outside, past the waiting room full of plastic chairs, and up to the little reception window that looked kind of like a bulletproof barricade that you see in convenience stores in the worst parts of town.

"Hi," I said to the woman checking people in. I had to duck down so she could see my face through the glass. "My name is Michael Oher and I'm here to meet with Ms. Bobbie Spivey."

"Ooh! It's so nice to meet you!" she almost shouted. "Come on in! We've been expecting you! Ms. Spivey's office is back here."

A security guard opened the door and led me through a metal detector and back into a big room full of cubicles and offices. As I walked to the conference room where our meeting would be, a number of women crowded around—all DCS workers—and said hello or told me how much they enjoyed the movie The Blind Side. I shook hands and said hello, but none of the faces looked familiar.

Reaching Back

And then, all of a sudden, I saw her. There was no mistaking who she was. I was face-to-face with the woman who had been one of the scariest people in all of my childhood.

"Hello, Michael," she smiled, giving me a hug. She barely reached the middle of my chest as I bent down. "You look so different. You're a lot taller. And your complexion is better."

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