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Whitlock: Only the illiterate believe Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy ‘blindsided’ Michael Oher
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Whitlock: Only the illiterate believe Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy ‘blindsided’ Michael Oher

You can’t read Michael Lewis’ 2006 blockbuster book, “The Blind Side,” and then claim the 2009 blockbuster movie of the same name unfairly portrayed Michael Oher.

You also can’t read the book and conclude that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy invited Oher into their home and lives because they wanted to exploit his football talents.

You can’t read “The Blind Side” and not comprehend the devastating ramifications caused by the destruction of the nuclear family and indifference to fixing black America’s family crisis.

You can’t read “The Blind Side” and rationally believe the Tuohy family deserves the criticism or lawsuit Michael Oher has dumped at their door.

Has Michael Oher read “The Blind Side”?

Oher has stated repeatedly – first in his 2011 memoir, “I Beat the Odds” – that he likes Lewis’ book but has a problem with the movie.

I question whether Oher has read the book. I have. I just re-read it in the last 48 hours. I also re-watched the movie this week. No objective person can read the book and believe the movie painted an unfair picture of Michael Oher.

Oher and his supporters claim the movie makes him look stupid academically and desperately in need of football training as a high schooler. In “I Beat the Odds,” Oher cast himself as a football savant who had studied and mastered the nuances of the game as a child, long before enrolling at Briarcrest Christian School as a sophomore.

In his just-released second memoir, “When Your Back’s Against the Wall,” Oher writes:

After the movie came out, the narrative downplayed some of the qualities that make me who I am. That I am self-taught. That I’m intuitive. That I work for things. The fictional story swept all of that away. It made it look like I was sitting there waiting for a handout. It cheapened those countless days of shaking off the cold and getting to class. The years of survival, resisting the streets, making the most of myself. For the sake of a better story, the movie suggested that some of the character traits that most define me are not true.

Self-taught? Michael Oher?

Again, has Michael Oher read Michael Lewis’ book?

The book, the one Oher likes, reports that Oher moved into the Tuohys’ home unable to read. It shared a story of Sean and Leigh Anne reading books aloud to Oher so that Oher and a tutor could construct book reports. The book says that a Briarcrest teacher discovered that Oher could learn and pass tests if things were presented to him verbally.

The book documents the major school attendance problems Oher had before enrolling at Briarcrest. His freshman year at a different high school, Oher missed 56 days. Earlier in his life, there was a near-yearlong stretch of school that could not be documented. Lewis’ book states Oher arrived at Briarcrest with a .06 grade-point average and an IQ of 80.

The book, the one Oher likes, states that a Briarcrest administrator had to teach Oher how to shake hands and greet people. It shares a story of Oher’s unwillingness to speak with high school recruiting guru Tom Lemming or virtually anyone during his initial months at Briarcrest.

According to Lewis’ book, Oher couldn’t read, had a .06 GPA, and a capacity for learning in the single percentile, and he was so traumatized from abandonment, homelessness, and neglect that he refused to talk with anyone.

The movie did not reflect the depth of Oher’s despair or the damage inflicted upon him his first 16 years of life. The movie painted a far more positive portrait of Oher than the book. Lewis’ book portrayed Oher’s reality.

Oher was a broken child, an athletic Humpty Dumpty. The Tuohys and the staff at Briarcrest tried to put a few of the pieces back together again. Their motive was not football or financial gain.

Sean Tuohy was a basketball star at Ole Miss in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He grew up poor, the son of a high school basketball coach. A successful restaurateur and passionate evangelical, Tuohy had a soft spot for the tiny handful of poor black kids who attended Briarcrest Christian School, a private academy for mostly rich white kids.

Long before Tuohy met Michael Oher, Tuohy’s reputation at Briarcrest was that he befriended and helped the black kids at Briarcrest. Sean Tuohy’s affinity for black kids rubbed off on Leigh Anne Tuohy, who was raised in a home scarred by the racism of her father.

Lewis’ book retold the story of Leigh Anne’s march down the wedding aisle. The church was filled with Sean’s black friends. Leigh Anne’s father, as he walked her down the aisle, whispered: “Why are all these n****rs here?”

Sean Tuohy led his wife down a decidedly different racial path. They shared a passion for doing the best they could to correct the racial wrongs from the past.

When they eventually invited Michael Oher to live with them in February 2004, it had nothing to do with Oher’s football prowess. He wasn’t a major football prospect at the time. He was a 6'5", 300-pound basketball prospect with really poor grades. Lewis’ book points out that when Oher moved into the Tuohy home, Sean wrote to numerous small colleges trying to drum up interest in Oher as a basketball prospect. Sean was a volunteer assistant basketball coach at Briarcrest. He thought basketball was Oher’s ticket to college. He didn’t see Oher as a future professional athlete.

It wasn’t until spring football practice that major college coaches fell in love with Michael Oher. Oher had spent the fall as an unaggressive, mediocre defensive tackle who had no shot of being academically eligible for a Division I scholarship.

“The Blind Side” is a terrific book and a great movie. We recognized that two decades ago, back when American culture and media still maintained some respect for the importance and power of the nuclear family. We now live in a secular society filled with hostility toward the natural order of man, woman, and child living in obedience to God’s family design.

The demonization of the Tuohys is predicated on the sinister, false belief that a toothless conservatorship, unsatisfying movie contract, and disappointment over an unrealized adoption are at the root of whatever is hurting Michael Oher today, not the utter failure of his biological parents.

Corporate and social media are doing a deep dive on the alleged failures of the Tuohys and Michael Lewis. They’re doing it because they want black people to believe the natural family is irrelevant. Corporate and social media promote the demonic and racist notion that better white parents produce better black people.

Michael Oher’s father never took responsibility for his son. Oher’s mother abandoned and neglected him for crack cocaine. But Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are the bad guys.

Only someone who has never read the Bible would believe that.

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock

BlazeTV Host

Jason Whitlock is the host of “Fearless with Jason Whitlock” and a columnist for Blaze News. As an award-winning journalist, he is proud to challenge the groupthink mandated by elites and explores conversations at the crossroads of culture, faith, sports, and comedy.
@WhitlockJason →