Violence, neglect, and near constant hunger were the ever-present backdrop of his childhood. He and his siblings were in and out of foster care and, at times, homeless. “Kids like me usually don’t get to see their dreams come true.”
Michael said, “It’s sad, but it’s true. Happy endings just don’t happen in the ghetto unless you’re willing to make them yourself.” From the time he was small, Michael was determined to do just that, but he knows kids like him need more than a vision and the determination to reach it. They need caring adults to come alongside them in practical ways to help turn the odds in their favor. That is why today, after a successful career in the NFL, Oher created The Oher Foundation, a foundation dedicated to empowering kids from hard places like Hurt Village, to break the cycle of poverty and realize their dreams.
Michael played football for The University of Mississippi, where he was an All-American athlete. He graduated in 2009 with a degree in Criminal Justice, and was drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens that same year. He started all 16 games his first year, helping the Ravens into the playoffs. In 2013, Oher and the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
After five seasons in Baltimore, Michael played with the Tennessee Titans, and then the Carolina Panthers, for a total of eight seasons in the NFL.
Michael Oher’s incredible story of leaving Hurt Village behind to play football at The University of Mississippi is the subject of Michael Lewis 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007). His storyline in the book was subsequently adapted for the film, The Blind Side (Alcon Entertainment, 2009). The movie was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category.
Michael has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, The View, and Shepherd.
Most recently, he has created the Good Deeds App, designed to quickly and easily connect families with practical needs such as clothing, baby formula or household items with their neighbors who are ready and able to meet those needs.
Michael believes that together we can help vulnerable kids like him reach their full potential. “We can’t help the circumstances we’re born into, and some of us start out in a much tougher place than other people,” Michael said. “But just because we started there doesn’t mean we have to end there.”