The Real Story Behind ‘The Blind Side’


The Blind Side is a modern classic American college sports movie, which arrived in worldwide cinemas late 2009. It is a true story and based on real life events. Gracing our screens is award nominee actor Quinton Aaron who plays Michael “Big Mike” Oher, a troubled and impoverished student with a sporting potential bubbling beneath the surface.

The saviour of the movie, his newly adopted mother Leigh Anne Tuohy, is played by classic Hollywood babe Sandra Bullock. The film went on to be a huge success and rightly won an Academy Award for Best Film. But what exactly is the story behind this timeless sports film? To learn about what dramas and discrepancies went on backstage, read on.


The film was a huge public success, and grossed a strong $34,510,000 in its opening weekend. Everything seemed to be going super well, until shockingly the real Michael Oher, an American football offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL, broadcast that he disliked the film, not just a little bit but massively. What could he possibly have had to say about the much loved family movie? The actor Quinton Aaron played his character technically very well indeed – what was to criticise there? However the real Oher felt that the film portrayed a lacklustre representation of his life story and told the press that the film actually did damage to his reputation. To find out why, keep reading…


The well watched family movie openly shows how coveted sportsman Michael Oher endured emotional and financial hardships in his childhood, which Oher found quite plainly embarrassing – wouldn’t you? The script included how Oher was homeless for a period of time and grew up in emotional toile without a family. For somebody who has painstakingly built a successful career as an American Football player and now at the top of their game, you can surely empathise with Oher’s shame.


The real Oher was certainly dealt a bad card at the start of his life; a real life story that will bring a tear to your eye. His biological mother was a heavy drug user and neglected Oher and his 11 brothers and sisters to pursue her addiction. Not only were the siblings without a mother, but their father was sent to prison, where he was brutally murdered by an inmate. Hollywood as per usual, decided to twist the life story of our hero sportsman, just a little bit, to make the story more fitting for the public.


Most of us will remember watching the latest Hollywood movies as children, swooning after Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic or wanting to be a tough girl like Angelina Jolie’s character in Tomb Raider. Come on, who doesn’t? And of course we all believed the unbelievably unrealistic plot lines that made the movies fun. We know Hollywood exaggerates a lot, and few white lies make telling a story more compelling…


You know, in Hollywood’s world, women can get out of the grasp of a mutant gorilla and still look unbelievably sexy (Naomi Watts in King Kong, 2005) or how about firing a handgun single handedly with pin-point accuracy, from the hip (every single James Bond movie ever. Make that, every action movie ever made, ever.) Super unrealistic, but we know it’s all super fun. When they twist a personal life story, especially one as brutal as Michael Oher’s, it takes on a totally different stance. Would you not want your life story portrayed just as you wish to the world?


So when Hollywood touched the Touhy family’s story, they decided to lie a lot to make it more, you know, Hollywood. Naturally, they made it more romantic and compelling for the silver screen. So, the Tuohy family’s first encounter with the young Michael Oher was when he was left rain drenched by the side of the road after running away from his turmulous home, his clothes were ripped and he was shivering cold. The movie suggests that the orphaned kid met the Touhys by chance encounter and up and went home to live with them and everything was okay after that. Obviously as humans are emotional beings, it was not quite like that…


While the family genuinely did meet the kid Michael Oher alone on the road side, it took a while before they took him home to live with them. A while passed and they thought of him alone outdoors, worried, and the very next day the real Leigh Anne Tuohy went out to search for Michael. The motherly figure took him out shopping for new clothes and got him some warm food. As in any adoptive situation, it takes a while for the new family to adjust and grow to be comfortable and love one another. Just imagine being in that situation yourself…


The real sportsman Michael Oher wanted to portray the real story of his life and he did so in a very clever way. The accomplished man made a move as bold as his on the football pitch. He wrote his own personal account his life story. Moving fast and with strong motivation he was cautious to tell all of the real gritty details of his life to the public. His book, I Beat the Odds was released shortly after the film came out and received a widespread critical acclamation. The emotional tale bears a close look into his boyhood and puts to right any of the lies that Hollywood told about his homelessness or abusive mother and father that embarrassed him so much in the first place. Would you not be moved to do the same yourself? The kid in the film adapts to his new family pretty instantaneously. This is a super unrealistic situation, and if you can put yourself in his shoes for a minute and think about just suddenly moving in with a new family and how you would feel about this strange new environment. In the movie, the parents see him as the perfect son, and Oher lovingly takes them them as the caring and broody parents he was left without. Of course, this isn’t the way it actually happened… To find out what really happened read on.


Naturally, both Michael Oher and his new parents to be both felt a little tension, though they all really wanted it to work out for the best. Recently, an American research brief found that adopted children still struggle with emotional contentment years and years after being adopted into a new family home. It also stated that adopted children were significantly likelier than biological children to have behaviour problems, are usually worse at paying attention in class, and less able to persevere on tough tasks. And of course they would, it’s a big emotional leap that most of us simply can’t imagine.


The movie director certainly manipulated real events in Oher’s story and changed them up a little to rouse a greater emotional response from the audience. Of course, the movie industry wants to capture it’s audience and make more in box office sales. It’s understandable. However, it’s also important for Oher to set the record straight and tell his own account of his life.
The movie script tells us that Oher is unusually articulate for a kid of his age and circumstance and the teachers at his new school are moved by his thirst for education. In real life, he had trouble being accepted into the new school due to his emotional behavioural issues.


In the film, young Oher was spotted eating up leftover chips from the audience of a school football game when it had ended and showed him struggling. In real life, however, Sean Tuohy paid a visit to the new school to sure that his lunch money had been processed by admin correctly. He wanted to ensure that Oher would be able to get a good hearty school lunch. The film also shows that Mrs Tuohy was solely responsible for instilling the love of American Football into the young kid and becoming his coach. While she did have a big part in developing the kid’s interest in the sport, he did not get all his sporting education from her, as the script suggests. To find out what the real Oher thought of this plot, read on.


This slight tweak of the storyline actually really upset Michael Oher about the Hollywood release. He felt that they tried to tweeze out out a heart-warming coach and student story, whilst the writers had left out the true facts about all of Michael Ohers own personal strength and determination and hunger for success that led him to his career as a famous football player. Another topic which is really important to touch upon is how race is regarded within the film. To find out what the critics and public thought of this subject, read on…


In the movie script, race is mentioned a small number of times. One time when Mr Tuohy states that he is struggling to accept he now has a black son, and one more time when a school football team mate mentions pokes it at the young Oher during a match. The real Touhy-Oher family had a little more tension that that however. Leigh Anne knew her parents were disapproving of the adoption as they had stated racist opinions in the past. Despite the disagreements between Leigh Anne and her ageing parents, young Oher settled in and fit in with his new found forever-family.


In the United States interracial adoption grew significantly from 1999 to 2005 where it reached its peak year at 585 adoptions, with California having the highest number of homes that were opened to international children. The Blind Side movie took quite a reaction from the critics who said that it presented a white saviour narrative in which Oher, an African-American male, is unable to overcome his poverty and emotional toile without the help of his adoptive, white mother Leigh Anne.


In fact, this embellishment really upset the real Michael Oher. He felt that the director left out a lot of the true background story that could have shone some light on what mental agility Oher really possessed to achieve his position at the top of his game. Imagine getting to a top sportsman position whilst growing up with a loving, supportive and normal family? It is a very hard thing to do in any given situation. Now imagine what strength of character the adopted Oher must have had to overcome his emotionally abusive past to get himself to the top.


Thanksgiving is the centre of any American family’s year. The Tuohy’s all gather around crowded long table to much up a festive banquet. If you look closely at this scene, you might notice a slight resemblance to a coveted painting by realist classical artist Norman Rockwell entitled Freedom from Want. How eerie! It may not have been the intentions of the movie’s director of photography to have this resemblance, however, you can’t deny that it does. Why don’t you have a look now, you’ll be surprised.


Everyone who watched The Blind Side seemed to enjoy it, from the casual weekend moviegoing spectators to even – who would have thought – the most harsh of academic film critics. The successful family movie not only carved a path for itself at the prestigious Golden Globes and the Oscars, but it was also a massive leap in the already-famous Sandra Bullock’s career. As if the gorgeous and much loved actress even needed it!


The lucky artist also got to see a feminist record broken. Sandra Bullock’s name was the only female name written above the film’s title on the movie posters, and the widely acclaimed movie took over $200 million at the box office. Great team playing, guys! The real Michael Oher today is still enjoying a career as a sportsman and also regularly posts updates on his Twitter account about his wonderful life, news he’s found that is interesting and also is still happily shouting down critics of the movie.