Dubbed a “warrior princess” by author Michael Lewis in his best-selling book The Blind Side, Leigh Anne is the inspirational matriarch of the Tuohy family. While studying at the University of Mississippi, better known as Ole Miss, Leigh Anne met Sean Tuohy, her husband of 33 years. Both were active and ambitious college students: Leigh Anne was a cheerleader, campus favorite, homecoming maid and an active member of her sorority, Kappa Delta; Sean became a record-breaking SEC basketball champion and still holds several SEC assist records. They are the proud parents of daughter Collins (28) and sons Sean, Jr. (21), and Michael Oher (29). In February 2013, Leigh Anne and the whole Tuohy family were on the sidelines cheering Michael and the Baltimore Ravens on to his first Super Bowl victory. Oher currently plays as Offensive Tackle for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
At the Podium
Leigh Anne inspires audiences to recognize the full potential of individuals in their community—and to find value in those who society has deemed valueless. She shares her personal “Blind Side” observations, from seeing Michael Oher for the first time to how the experience changed her as a person—and the Tuohys as a family. “He had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life,” says Leigh Anne. One of the country’s most sought after motivational speakers, Leigh Anne has given lectures to a broad spectrum of audiences from religious groups and town halls to some of the country’s largest corporations.
The chronicle of the Tuohy family’s life, Michael Lewis’ New York Times number one best-seller The Blind Side, went on to become a record-breaking Hollywood blockbuster that earned more than $300 million at the box office and became the number one opening weekend sports film in history. The film boldly depicts both the struggles and triumphs of building a blended family; Sandra Bullock won her first Academy Award for her portrayal of Leigh Anne in the film.
A Memphis, Tennessee native, Leigh Anne attended Briarcrest Christian School and went on to graduate from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s of Science in Interior Design. Leigh Anne owns Flair I, an interior design firm with her mother and partner, Virginia Roberts. Her work has been featured on HGTV and in numerous publications. She has designed for such clients as Peyton Manning, Scottie Pippen, Isaac Bruce, and OJ Mayo and was a member of the design team for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Season 8 during the 2010-11 season.
The Tuohy family is actively involved in many civic and faith-based organizations, including Grace Evangelical Church, of which they are founding members. In 2010, Leigh Anne was awarded an honorary doctorate from Christian Brothers University for her outstanding commitment to Christian service and cheerful giving; she delights in her new moniker, Dr. Tuohy. Leigh Anne is also a new member on the Board of Directors for Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, an organization dedicated to supporting teens on their path to graduate from high school and prepare them for a successful future.
Years after The Blind Side burst onto the scene, breaking box office records and inspiring individuals nationwide, Leigh Anne continues to make an impact. In July 2010, she and her husband, Sean, released the New York Times best-seller, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, and established their charity, The Making it Happen Foundation, which promotes awareness, provides hope, and improves standards of living for all the children fighting to survive in the invisible cracks in society. Leigh Anne’s second book, Making it Happen: Just Turn Around, details concrete action steps people can take to becoming more involved and giving—in both their community and in their one on one interactions with others. Leigh Anne’s latest book, Turn Around: Reach Out, Give Back, and Get Moving, challenges readers to re-think what giving really means. Turn Around is a five-day-per-week devotional that uses scripture as a springboard to reconsider what it means to give sacrificially, generously, and immediately—many times, without having to leave your own community. The book is set for release in late 2015.
You never know what you might catch Leigh Anne doing. She could be changing clothes during a drive from a Titans game to a Loyola of Maryland game to a Grizzlies game. She could be driving someone home from a bus stop. She could be trying to figure out what type of butter to buy for Collins’ cookie business (butter picking is not exactly Leigh Anne’s forte). Or she could be dining with the CEO Of a major company, the principal of a high school, or the homeless woman at the shelter. That is because, to Leigh Anne, it does not matter who you are, what you do or where you came from…everyone deserves an opportunity and everyone has value.
The Tuohy family’s inspirational story has been covered all over the national media, including Katie, Fox and Friends, Good Morning America, 20/20, The Today Show, Dr. Drew, Sean Hannity, Huffington Post Live , and Huckabee, to name a few. Leigh Anne has also been a contributing writer to the AARP weekly blog and More.com, offering advice through personal stories of determination and charitable giving.
Leigh Anne also starred in Family Addition with Leigh Anne Tuohy on UP, the network dedicated to uplifting entertainment. The show, for which Leigh Anne was also executive producer, featured families as they go through the practical, physical, and emotional process of adding a new family member and also facilitated a makeover of part of their homes to accommodate the new addition.
Through all of their projects, the Tuohy family continues their mission to inspire hope, ignite generosity, and make it happen for the deserving, but underserved youth.