Michael Oher Biography, Parents, Career, Controversy, Wife and Children

Michael Oher grew up in a troubled family, and his estranged father was murdered when he was in high school. Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy supposedly became Oher’s legal guardians, and he went on to become a collegiate football standout and a first-round pick in the NFL.

This chapter of Oher’s life was told in Michael Lewis’ book The Blind Side, as well as in Sandra Bullock‘s film of the same name. Oher spent five seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, where he helped them win the Super Bowl in 2013. Before retiring in 2017, he also played for the Tennessee Titans and the Carolina Panthers.

Early life and Turning Point

Michael Oher was born on May 28, 1986, in Memphis, Tennessee, as Michael Jerome Williams Jr. He was one of 12 children born to Michael Jerome Williams Sr. and Denise Oher, who offered little to no support to their children.

Michael Sr. was frequently incarcerated, and Denise was a crack cocaine addict. As a result, Oher was frequently homeless and in and out of foster care. He also struggled academically, repeating first and second grades and attending 11 different schools throughout his first nine years of school.

When Oher was 16, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy took him in, and the Tuohys became his legal guardians when he was 17. Oher began to shine in football during his junior year. Oher was the starting left tackle on the varsity football team by the start of his senior year. He immediately rose to prominence as a top football prospect in Tennessee, earning many scholarship offers from Division I institutions. Oher’s estranged father was slain off the field that year.

Nonetheless, Oher had a very successful 2004. He was a well-known high school football star who earned first-team All-America accolades from USA Today and was invited to participate in the US Army All-America Bowl. After obtaining scholarship offers from Tennessee, Louisiana State University, Alabama, and North Carolina State, he chose the University of Mississippi.

College Football Career

Oher appeared in 11 games as a freshman offensive lineman for Ole Miss, starting 10 of them at right guard. In 2005, Oher was named first team Freshman All-America by The Sporting News and first team Freshman All-SEC by the SEC.

After moving to his more natural position of left tackle in his sophomore season in 2006, Oher became a breakout star in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference. Oher was named second team All-SEC for his efforts.

Oher continued to dominate at left tackle in his junior season. Oher declared for the 2008 NFL Draft after being named a consensus first-team All-SEC selection in 2007. However, he retracted his draft declaration two days later in order to play his senior year at the University of Mississippi.

Oher was a senior leader on the University of Mississippi team that won for the first time since 2003. The powerful left tackle was named to the SEC’s first team as well as The Associated Press’s first team all-America.

NFL Career

The Baltimore Ravens selected Oher 23rd overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. In his debut season with the Ravens, he started all 16 games and helped the team reach the playoffs.

Oher was a key player in the Ravens’ run to Super Bowl XLVII in 2012-13. The Super Bowl, held in New Orleans, paired the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers. In a close game, Oher and his teammates won the championship, scoring 34 points to the 49ers’ 31. After his impressive win, Oher told ABC News, “I came so far—from nothing to a Super Bowl championship. I’m in shock right now.”

Oher, a free agency after playing for the Tennessee Titans in 2014, joined the Carolina Panthers after being recruited by the team’s quarterback, Cam Newton. Oher’s outstanding play in 2015 helped Newton earn the MVP award and was a key element in the team’s run to Super Bowl 50. He was released by the Panthers in 2017, therefore ending his NFL career.

‘The Blind Side’

Author Michael Lewis published The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game in 2006, while Oher was in his second year at Ole Miss, detailing Oher’s story from foster child to college football star. The book was eventually adapted into a 2009 film starring Quinton Aaron as Oher, Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, and Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, which was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Oher has been critical of the film, specifically how it presented him as lacking football expertise and how it influenced others’ perceptions of his professional career. In 2015 as his NFL career wound down, Oher said, “This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not… that has nothing to do with football. It’s something else off the field. That’s why I don’t like that movie.”

2023 Conservatorship Lawsuit Involving the Tuohys

Oher filed a court case in Tennessee in August 2023, stating that the Tuohys never properly adopted him and instead duped him into signing a document naming them his conservators in 2004. According to the petition, this deal, which Oher alleges he discovered about in February 2023, granted the Tuohys jurisdiction over his legal, medical, and educational issues and allowed their family to make millions of dollars in royalties from The Blind Side while Oher received nothing.

Oher’s petition requested that the conservatorship be terminated, that an injunction be issued to prohibit the Tuohys from benefitting off Oher’s name, and that Oher be granted compensatory and punitive damages.

“We’re devastated,” Sean Tuohy told The Daily Memphian. “It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.” According to Sean, the family’s only profit from the film came from The Blind Side author Michael Lewis’ share. It came to almost $14,000 per person for himself, his wife, their two biological children, and Oher.

In terms of the conservatorship, Sean stated that Oher needed to be legally a member of the Tuohy family in order for the NCAA to enable him to play football at the University of Mississippi. Sean and Leigh Anne both graduated from Ole Miss, and Sean was a “active supporter” of the school, which alarmed the NCAA. Lawyers advised the couple that they could not adopt someone above the age of 18, so they sought a conservatorship instead. Sean stated that he and Leigh Anne would agree to end the conservatorship if Oher so desired.

Wife and Children

In November 2022, Oher married his long-term partner, Tiffany Roy. They met in college and were together for 17 years before marrying. They have two sons named Kobi and MJ, as well as two girls named Kierstin and Naivi.

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