You may have heard of Michael Oher when he catapulted to fame after the on-screen depiction of his life in the film The Blind Side, but there’s a whole lot more to him than meets the eye.
Here’s what you need to know about this Super Bowl winner who truly beat the odds.
1. He’s a Winner
Aside from helping the Baltimore Ravens to their Super Bowl win last night, Oher has garnered a slew of awards on his own behalf. He was a First Team Freshman All-American, a recipient of the SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, and it seems that his winning streak is only beginning.
2. He Came from a Seriously Messed-Up Family
As depicted in the film about his life, Oher’s upbringing was pretty rough-n-tumble. His birth mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and he was only one of her 12 children that she couldn’t support. His father was incarcerated and was murdered in prison while Oher was still in high school. He was even homeless for a time before he was taken in by the well-off Tuohy family.
3. He Got Adopted by a Loving Family, Who Were at the Super Bowl
Oher was adopted by the Tuohy family, who could be seen going wild with pride on the sidelines of last night’s game. The Tuohys gave Oher the support and encouragement he needed to pursue his footballer dreams, and he owes much of where he is today to his adoptive family.
4. There’s a Movie About Him, and He Didn’t Like It
The Blind Side was based on Oher’s life. Sandra Bullock famously played his adoptive mother, and Quinton Aaron played Oher pretty convincingly. According to Oher, the film has done nearly as much bad for his life as good.
5. He Wrote an Autobiography to Set the Record Straight
Dissatisfied with how The Blind Side portrayed him and his upbringing, Oher took to pen and pad for his autobiography, I Beat the Odds. He aimed to right many of the supposed inconsistencies in the film, and to fill in any gaps that might have been left in his story.
6. He Was a First-Round Draft Pick
When Oher entered the 2009 NFL Draft, he was the 23rd pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round.
7. He Wants It All to be About the Game
Too many people bug him about the film, he says — Oher wants it to be all about the ball. He says that he feels undervalued because of his celebrity status from the film, and that it takes away from the years of hard work he’s put in to the game.
8. He’s (Apparently) Nothing Like His Onscreen Portrayal
Oher’s teammates say that he’s nothing like his onscreen portrayal. The real Oher is more fun-loving and not quite so mute, they say, and that he has a wicked sense of humor. Read his autobiography and you just might catch a glimpse of that comedic sense.
9. Sandra Bullock Still Calls
She wasn’t just in it for the money–Sandra Bullock seems genuinely interested in Oher and the Tuohys, calling them regularly and even sitting with them at the Superbowl to cheer Oher on. She brought her two-year-old son with her, decked out in an Oher jersey.
10. He Wasn’t a ‘Mute Football Savant’
Oher says that Leigh Anne Tuohy wasn’t the one who taught him football, as portrayed in “The Blind Side.” He maintains that he’d been playing the game long before he met the Tuohys, and that he’d spent years studying the intricacies of football. He feels disadvantaged in that some still believe that he was some sort of mute football savant, and not someone that worked hard to get where he is today.