“When Sean Tuohy saw the new kid sitting in the high school gym, he saw a boy with nowhere to go but up. The question was how to take him there.” — from The Blind Side
“Sean was an American success story: he had come from nothing and made himself rich,” wrote Michael Lewis in The Blind Side, the best-selling book that inspired the major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless teenager turned first round draft pick NFL football player, with the support and love of an unlikely adoptive family: the Tuohys. Sean Tuohy, Michael’s adoptive father, was a record-breaking basketball player before becoming a successful entrepreneur and NBA broadcaster. In February 2013, Sean and the whole Tuohy family were on the sidelines cheering Michael and the Baltimore Ravens on to his first Super bowl victory.
Sean Tuohy knew what it meant to be the poor kid in a private school—he had been one himself. With sports as his “meal ticket” through high school and college, Sean left New Orleans for the University of Mississippi on a basketball scholarship. When Sean walked off the court after his final game, he had shattered every major SEC assists-related record and become a legend in the SEC hall of fame for leading the Ole Miss Rebels to their first ever Championship.
Drafted by the NBA’s New Jersey Nets in 1982, he opted to continue his career overseas before returning to the US to be with his father in his final days. He became a successful entrepreneur, building a company that now owns and operates 93 fast food restaurants, including
Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s and KFC.
Sean has been married to his college cheerleader sweetheart, the former Leigh Anne Roberts, for 30 years and they are the proud parents of daughter Collins (26) and sons Michael Oher (26) and Sean, Jr. (19).
Sean is also in his 11th season as an NBA broadcaster for the Memphis Grizzlies, after several years as an analyst for radio broadcasts at Ole Miss as well as national broadcasts for Westwood One and CBS radio.
In addition to his demanding business, broadcasting, school and church schedules (he also helped to create one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in Memphis, the Grace Evangelical Church) Sean is heavily involved in supporting several minority students at Briarcrest Christian School. “It’s easy to beat a kid up. The hard thing is to build him up,” Sean says. With that philosophy in mind, Sean and Leigh Anne brought Michael into their home, supported him through school, and eventually adopted him as their son.
The Tuohy family’s life, as chronicled in 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 for a sports film in history.
Only three years after The Blind Side burst onto the scene, breaking box office records and inspiring individuals nationwide, Sean continues to make an impact. In July 2010, he and his wife, Leigh Anne 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. A fun element of their charity is the weekly Tuohy Trivia which offers a lucky winner a $25 gift to the charity of his or her choice. Leigh Anne’s newest 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. 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.
The Tuohy family’s inspirational story has been covered all over the national media including Good Morning America, The Today Show, 20/20, and Huckabee to name a few. They are also working on potential televisions shows.
Sean is one of the most sought after motivational speakers and has given lectures to a broad spectrum of audiences from religious groups and town halls to some of the country’s largest corporations. At the podium, Sean invites audiences to go behind-the-scenes of the Tuohy household with a heartwarming message: “In our house, we believe in miracles.” Sharing personal anecdotes with his signature southern charm, Sean brings The Blind Side to life. From the perspective of a dedicated father and inspirational coach, Sean asks all of us to consider a simple question: how many other kids just like Michael Oher are falling through the cracks every day? And how can we make an impact big enough to change a broken system?