Oher Shares His Story In His Own Words

With “I Beat The Odds” Michael Oher hopes to give hope to children like himself.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, February 11th, 2011 at 11:00 am | Categories: Ryan Mink

Michael Oher on “I Beat the Odds”
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Ravens tackle Michael Oher never intended to co-author a book about himself.

In fact, having the hit movie “The Blind Side” based on his life was already a little uncomfortable for the soft-spoken football giant.

Oher didn’t go to the movie premier, didn’t even watch it until his rookie season was finished, and doesn’t particularly like to talk about it. He prefers to keep his focus on football.

But when Oher kept seeing letters pile into his mailbox at the Ravens’ training facility, hundreds with stories from children like himself, he decided he needed to speak up.

“They were very inspiring [stories], telling me how much of a role model I was,” Oher told BaltimoreRavens.com minutes before autographing hundreds of books from adoring fans at the Power Plant Barnes & Noble in Baltimore Thursday night.

“I had to go ahead and do it because I knew I could change so many people’s lives. … It humbled me to see so many people going through the same problems I was going through. You kind of start to realize that you’ve got to start helping.”

With assistance from renowned sports author Don Yaeger, Oher authored “I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond,” which hit bookstands Tuesday morning.

The book dives into Oher’s dark childhood, from living with his drug-addicted mother, bouncing from home to home and eventually being taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family.

Oher and Yaeger did their research into America’s foster care system and what happens to those kids who age out or bounce around inside it.

“The outlook is pretty bleak for kids like me,” Oher wrote in the book.

At the same time, Oher wants to convey that any child can accomplish what he did, and his book is intended to give kids a roadmap of sorts.

“I always had an inner drive deep down inside,” Oher said. “The help I received, it made the road a lot easier, but I could have been working at a fast food restaurant, double hours every day, to put a roof over my head and food on my plate.”

In national interviews this week, Oher said he didn’t exactly agree with how he was portrayed in “The Blind Side,” saying it didn’t require ketchup bottles and salt shakers to teach him the game of football.

But Oher has also made it clear that he didn’t write his book to set the story straight.

“This is nothing trying to say ‘The Blind Side’ wasn’t true,” Oher said. “It’s strictly trying to be a positive influence on a lot of people’s lives. Especially where I came from, it’s a problem with foster care and kids in the inner city.”

Close to 500 people came to the Barnes & Noble to meet Oher. They started lining up at 9:30 a.m., and among those who joined were 12 children from the Green Street Academy, a transformation school in Southwest Baltimore.

They all got an autographed copy of the book and even did the school’s cheer for the lineman, who smiled upon seeing the spectacle.

“These are kids that come from backgrounds where many don’t have fathers at home,” President Larry Rivitz said. “Some of these kids had never been downtown and they live five miles from here. Michael’s story hits home.”

Oher, who has hit the national talk show circuit including “Good Morning America” and “The View,” will continue his book-signing tour Friday at the K Street Borders in Washington, D.C., starting at 12:30 p.m. He’ll finish Saturday at the Timonium Borders, starting at 2 p.m.

You can purchase “I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond” at Barnes & Noble or online.

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