The Ballad of Big Mike

If you watched the Ole Miss / Texas Tech match-up in the Cotton Bowl, you might have caught a quick interview with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. A few years ago, they took a kid off the streets named Mike Oher.

Mike had obvious but undeveloped physical gifts. He weighed over 300 pounds as a teenager, and yet was faster than many on the track team. But he had never played organized sports of any sort. That was mostly because he spent his first nine academic years attending eleven different public schools. And the routine was the same: he would fail every class the first semester, and then his teacher would pass him during the spring term so that they wouldn’t have to deal with him again the next year.

When he enrolled into high school, he had a measured IQ of 80 and a GPA of 0.6. Note the word measured. While he had trouble with any sort of formal assessment, he obviously had street smarts, having survived on his own for 14 years.

But several key people took an interest in him. A step-father of sorts made it his mission to enroll him into a prestigious private high school. (His biological father had been shot and killed and dumped off a bridge when Mike was a little kid, and his bio-mother was addicted to crack cocaine.) The football coach and school president had decided to accept Mike, even if he never played a single down for the school team. And maybe most importantly, the Tuoys decided to take him into their home.

You can read the whole story here, in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, or check out Michael Lewis’ book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

So where is Mike now?

He just finished his final season at Ole Miss, and he will surely be a first round draft pick. All because of folks like the Tuohys.

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One Response to The Ballad of Big Mike

  1. muddywaters says:

    This is a book I’ve read twice. It’s amazing. Everyone should hear Mike’s story. Each time I read the book I experience an incredible range of emotions. When we watched the Ol’ Miss/Missouri game a couple of weeks ago, they interviewed the Touhys. I briefly told Kristin the story, so now she’s planning on reading the book.I love the book because it gives a voice to a segment of the population that is often invisible to the general public. I don’t think we always understand the obstacle that some individuals confront.

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