'Blind Side' Player's Mom Calls Super Bowl Appearance 'the Greatest Validation'

Leigh Anne Tuohy will be at the game to cheer on Panthers player Michael Oher.

February 5, 2016, 5:22 AM

— -- Two weeks ago, when Carolina Panthers left tackle Michael Oher took the field in the NFC championship, Leigh Anne Tuohy burst into tears.

For Tuohy, whose family was the focus of the 2009 film "The Blind Side," seeing Oher playing football at this level is an overwhelming experience.

To that end, she's been crying all week, and she knows that come Super Bowl Sunday, she'll sobbing "like a baby."

"On Sunday, I will be bawling because that's my child first of all - to see your child live out a dream is wonderful - but every time he comes out there it represents hope to me," she told ABC News. "The Panthers gave my son a chance and I'm forever grateful. That's part of being a mother."

Last season didn't end well for Oher, who entered the NFL in 2009 as a first-round draft pick and won the Super Bowl in 2013 with the Baltimore Ravens. However, in 2014, while he was playing with the Tennessee Titans, he injured his toe and missed a few games. Last February, he was released from the team. The next month, however, proved to be a turning point, as the Panthers announced that they'd signed Oher to a two-year contract. It was a great move for the team: This season, Oher has successfully protected quarterback Cam Newton's blindside time and time again, and has only allowed a few sacks.

"The greatest validation is the fact that so many people counted Michael out last year and here is a life lesson for everyone: Don't count people out. Don't look at that person because they didn't do what you think they should've done or what you think they should've been doing and say they're done or they're toast. Don't label that person because you don't know their story," she said. "When people are determined and they work hard, you don't know what can happen. Here's a kid who didn't listen to what people said about him. He kept working. He kept focused, and he kept doing the right thing."

She said that while it's not her son's nature to say "I told you so," to his critics, she has noticed that "he has a giddy step right now." Tuohy added that Oher became especially motivated after receiving a pre-season call from Newton, who persuaded him to join the team.

"He's in an extra-special spot because he gets a call from Cam and Cam says, 'I need you.' When somebody tells you that, you're just like, 'I'm all in,'" she said. "It's like [he's thinking], 'Look. These people believed in me and they coached me up. They realized I had value and they're giving me an opportunity because they believed in me, so I'm going to work my a** off for them,' and look what's happened."

Tuohy said that her whole family is in San Francisco right now to support Oher, and that on Sunday, they'll be celebrating in their Panthers gear no matter what happens. If they win, she promises to "celebrate and be obnoxious, honking the horn," and if they don't, they'll take Oher out for a nice dinner and reminisce about the team's "fairytale, magical, Disney-esque season."

"This is a team full of character and integrity from the owner to the head coach to Michael's position coach to the little boy that works the door. They're all just great people - 'Yes ma'am. No ma'am. Thank you.' They smile at you. It's just that kind of organization," she said. "I just thank God: How did we get so lucky to end up with a group of people like this? You don't get that lucky in life and we feel very, very fortunate. We feel very blessed to be part of the Panthers organization."

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